Social contracts are implicit agreements among members of social groups to cooperate for social benefits. They help us form shared cultures and values

Rousseau: everyone forfeits some rights so that they might also impose selected duties

e.g. most democracies today, citizens agree to pay taxes in their shared currencies to fund and maintain basic infrastructure like roads, bridges, and electrical grids

In his book Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes argues that without rules and a means of enforcing them, people would not bother to create anything of value, because nobody could be sure of keeping what they created. Collaboration (and thus society) is possible only when people mutually agree to follow certain guidelines

Hobbes argues that everybody living in a civilized society has implicitly agreed to two things (collectively known as the social contract):

  1. the establishment of a set of moral rules to govern relations among citizens (necessary if we are to gain the benefits of social living)
  2. a government capable of enforcing these rules.

See also: Social Contract Theory

Social Rules for learning

From Recurse Center’s Social Rules

For example, working at the edge of your abilities requires taking emotional risks, and the social rules help create an environment where it’s safe to do that. Letting someone know that they impacted you by breaking a social rule and accepting that feedback gracefully when you’re the one who messed up are important ways to learn generously. This allows everyone to keep working and growing together.

  1. No well-actually’s: correcting someone about something that’s not relevant to the conversation or only tangential to what they’re actually trying to say. Not helpful and break the flow of conversation
  2. No feigned surprise: acting surprised when someone doesn’t know something. Makes people feel bad for not knowing things and less likely to ask questions in the future, which makes it harder for them to learn
  3. No backseat driving: lob advice from across the room without really joining or engaging in a conversation. Even if your advice is correct, it’s rude to bust into a conversation without asking. If you overhear a conversation where you could be helpful, the best thing to do is to ask to join.
  4. No subtle-isms: Subtle-isms make people feel like they don’t belong. We want to create an environment where everyone can focus all their energy on programming.