Rousseau and Kant on Law

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Kant and Rousseau share many similar viewpoints regarding how laws should be created, but when it comes to the concept of law itself, they differ greatly. Both Rousseau and Kant agree that laws which are agreed by everyone within the state are the only which can be bound to. However they take very different paths in order to reach this agreement. Kant's universal law is his categorical imperative, whereas Rousseau's uses his general law in his sovereign.

According to Rousseau, the common good of all people that are entering into a social contract is the general will. The general will is always correct. The term "general will" may sound ambiguous, but its definition sets it apart from other types. For instance, the general will is far different from the "will of all." The will of all is the sum of what everyone wants in the assembly, both of general and private interest.

On the other hand, the general will only deals with the will of the common group of people. Everyone is involved, no one is alienated. When one removes "from these same wills the pluses and minuses that cancel each other out, and what remains as the sum of the differences is the general will." (Rousseau, 156) In order for the general will to flourish to the fullest extent, each member's private particular wills must not be accounted for.

When the general will begins to involve particularities, inequality arises between men. There is then no longer a consensus between the entire assembly as there had been before. Additionally, when particularity is incorporated into the general will, factions are created inside the sovereign. When groups get together against each other inside of the state, more particularity arises and there is less...