Principles and the Social Contract

by Augusto Cuginotti

Still exploring how to define the set of principles that are needed to create a common ground for planning. The research of the thesis brought some ideas that led to what was explored on the XVI-century book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I went to read the famous Le Contrat Social to get an idea of how that can be supportive to organizations and communities.

The hypothesis is that finding out the “contract” made by a group, the set of principles that represents the definition of its existence (citizen versus foreigner for Rousseau), it is possible to define conditions of common ground that support the use of backcasting for planning.

The work on organizations and small communities can allow the creation of laws – in the idea of principles that represents the general will – by the whole instead of using a representative system. Perhaps that is mandatory – if not always as Rousseau defends – at least on the definition of the essence that unites the group. Are these laws a conscious choice or a natural dynamic in a group? Perhaps both.

In which way should a company or a small community identify their general will, both the creator of the principles and the recent one? How would a process of evolving the pact made to the recent general will take place? This death and rebirth can be the organizational redesign that many are looking for.

Some argue that the “general will” is rather metaphysical, but the point here (philosophical point, I admit) is to define the foundations of a group or society that could allow us to bring to surface the contract that bounds people together at a level that, if violated, would dissolve that group/society.