|(in the philosophy of Rousseau) the source of legitimate authority residing in the collective will as contrasted with individual interests|
theory of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 18th-century French political philosopher, that in a democratic society the state represents the general will of the citizens, and that in obeying its laws each citizen is pursuing his own real interest. Rousseau distinguished the "general will" from particular wills. The general will is a moral will, a will that aims at the common good.
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