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Additional resources for Kant and the Law of Peace: A Study in the Philosophy of International Law and International Relations
Rousseau's claim that the sovereign power that belonged to the people was a legislative power, rather than a power of government, was intimately bound up with an argument he advanced in Book 2 of The Social Contract regarding law as the concern of the general will. This was the argument that the general will was directed to laws, considered as a subject-matter possessing the measure of generality, or universality, appropriate to the character of the will in accordance with which sovereignty was to be exercised by the people.
The laws established in accordance with the general will of the people were laws which applied to the people as a whole, and which therefore had reference to all the individuals who were subjects of the state in a collective sense, and to their actions in an abstract sense. As for particular objects of will, such as specific individuals or specific actions, these, for Rousseau, could not be a proper subject-matter of laws, but only of commands having the status of acts of govern45 ment. This argument of Rousseau's underlines that it was law, rather than the institutions of government, which he considered to establish the fundamental conditions of association among men in political society.
22 In Hobbes's view, the laying down by men of their natural right, as required by the second law of nature, could take place only through some voluntary act on their part. The essence of this act was not the renunciation of right, but the mutual transference of it by men to some other person or persons. 23 The form of the act was that of a type of contractual agreement that Hobbes termed pact or covenant. As he explained it, a covenant was an agreement where the parties trusted one another to fulfil its terms.