Law and Society: Rousseau and Paine We sometimes take for granted that we humans are Just animals. Like many of the animals we study and read about, humans form social groups for safety in numbers, for the opportunity to reproduce, and for the simple reason of not being alone. Law and society among humans are the dynamic cues rules that define Interaction between members of these social groups, and which develop and evolve with the group.

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Jacques Rousseau, in 1 754, wrote a discourse on the “Origin of Inequality among Men,” a work that has influenced many of the modern schools of sociological thought today. In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote “Common Sense,” which uses similar rhetoric to describe the purposes of government. These two authors both put forth their own definitions of law and society, which can help us answer what laws’ effects are on society, as well as society’s effects on laws.

The main similarity in Rousseau and Paine’s works are their explanation for the need of law and society. Rousseau defines the need for society simply In his “social contract,” an agreement between people In order that the strong and the weak are rotected equally within this society. While the existence of strong and weak people are due to natural variations in body type and intelligence, everyone is expected to give up certain freedoms alike in order to belong in the society.

Laws define the freedoms that these people must give up, such as the freedom to kill indiscriminately, or to steal. Paine, likewise, describes law as the protection given to each member of the society, which protects him from other members of society and from the society itself. In Paine’s view, society is the product of humans’ collective ants, while government and law are necessary evils that accompany society and protect its members from each other.

Both law and society are the products of the human need to form social groups to survive, but which is more important in shaping the other? In practice, law and society have been able to develop around each other whileat the same time remaining distinct in purpose. For example, the Jim Crow laws in the united States propagated the “separate but equal” status that the law required between white and black public facilities, but American society was not yet willing to rovide true equality.

Page 2 Rousseau vs Paine Essay

Here we find evidence ofsociety shaping the meaning of a law to better sult Its needs, Illustrating Rousseau’s asseruon that the law Is made and interpreted to protect the members of its society (in this example, society being while male citizens). Rousseau also mentions in his discourse that legal legitimization of Inequality (despite Its guise of equality in this case) is one of the maln causes of Inequality In any society. This legal legitimization of Inequality refers to the deflnltlon ofa slave toa master by law, or even ofa vassal to a king. using the latter rhetoric,

Paine describes how the American society has outgrown its need for a king, and for societies if they do not grow with them. Law and society are two aspects of human life that have evolved complexities far beyond the scope of this essay. Without society, law would not be needed, and without law, society would fall apart. Despite their similar origins and seemingly parallel relationship, law is often interpreted and used to benefit certain parts of society (which shapes many people’s freedom), and society must constantly change its laws to grow with its changing morals and values.

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