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There is an obvious natural affinity between the theory of
contract law and the political theory based on social contract or
consent. Both reflect liberal premises; both treat voluntary assumption
of responsibility as the central foundation of obligation.
Both are theories of exchange; exchange of private
property in the one context, and exchange of political rights
and obligations in the other. Although one deals with political
relationships and the other with legal ones, both are based on
the obligated individual's promise. While the consent theory of
political obligation is not founded literally upon any strictly
legal obligation, it gathered strength historically in a society increasingly
oriented towards the market transactions that made
such legal obligations important. Contract law and contractarian
political theory came of age together.
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