Social rights (social contract theory)

Social rights are rights arising from the social contract. For example, James Madison advocated that a right such as trial by jury arose neither from nature nor from a constitution of government, but from reified implications of the social contract.[1] Social rights are very similar to political rights, and it can be understood that they are effectively the same concepts being exercised in a less extreme way.[2]

Cécile Fabre argues that "it is legitimate to constrain democratic majorities, by way of the constitution, to respect and promote those fundamental rights of ours that protect the secure exercise of our autonomy and enable us to achieve well-being. Insofar as, by virtue of Ch. 1, social rights are such fundamental rights, it follows that they should be constitutionalized."[3]

From a legal standpoint several approaches exercise and guarantee social rights; social rights under the constitution are rights of subjects or "subject rights". This assures that the public receives equal distribution of collective and private interests.[4][clarification needed]


  1. ^ Introduction of the Bill of Rights in congress, 1789 Jun 8, Jul 21, Aug 13, 18-19; Annals 1:424-50, 661-65, 707-17, 757-59, 766.
  2. ^ MacMillan, C. Michael (1986). "Social versus Political Rights". Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique. 19 (2): 283–304. ISSN 0008-4239.
  3. ^ Fabre, Cécile. "3. Constitutional Social Rights." Social Rights Under the Constitution 1: 67-110.
  4. ^ Societies Without Borders; Jul2009, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p158-174, 17p