Rousseau discusses the concept of general will in relation to freedom and authority in a representative government in The Social Contract of 1762. His contention about freedom is that not only is it part of humankind's natural state--associated with humankind's original benevolent laws of nature making humankind free and wise--freedom is aimed at meeting the common good through the general will emerging from justice and collective interest. Because of this benevolence, wisdom and freedom, Rousseau believed that the general will--different and distinct from contradictory individual or group will--leads to laws derived from the collective interest of the people and dedicated to the common good, expressed in representative form of government in a republic.
For Rousseau, general will arose from inner conscience and passion and was politically expressed. Debate was not needed to uncover the general consensus of will. Rather the general will was the upwelling of individuals' consciences and senses of inner commitment, or passions. In other words, for Rousseau, the action of participating in the function of representation was the seed for the formation of the republic, and the majority vote, or majority rule, represented the soundest expression of the general will of the people, which derived from a sense of justice and a moral standpoint, which Rousseau assumed each individual possessed.