Warnock and Rousseau

Nigel Warburton is putting up podcasts of himself reading from his own Philosophy: The Classics (not terribly successful I think - he writes very well and he's not a bad reader but the recordings are somehow lifeless) and Philosophy Bites - short interviews with other philosophers conducted by him and David Edmonds. Those are very good so far - Simon Blackburn on Plato, Stephen Law on the weakness of various arguments for the existence of god, and Mary Warnock on philosophy in public life.

Warnock makes a point while discussing attempts to change the law on euthanasia - people who say our lives belong to God, she says, are arguing irrelevantly (her emphasis). Other people don't believe that, and (what I think she's getting at though she doesn't quite put it like this), laws must be based on common ground and reasons we can all agree on rationally, not on reasons which particular groups may feel very strongly about but which aren't universally accepted (so the religious belief is a good reason for the individual who holds the belief, but not for people who don't, so it's not a good reason when it comes to determining public policy).

I've got to write an essay on Rousseau's The Social Contract over the next couple of days, and I'm wondering how I can fit that in - it's a very Rousseauian argument, from a surprising source.

(Edit: Jonathan Derbyshire on the same subject)