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Compare And Contrast John Locke And Rousseau

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Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Locke produced two tantamount pieces of literature that acted as both commentary and guideline for their current government systems. While Rousseau proposed thoughtful explanations for an efficient government in his work entitled The Social Contract, they were seen as noxious to the society he was a part of. While Rousseau’s social contract served as commentary and guideline to, what he felt was, a corrupt government system, Locke wrote his social contract, The Second Treatise, in response to The Glorious Revolution of 1688, in hopes of a positive communal response to characteristics he felt would make an adequate government system. Although Locke and Rousseau have differing, but comparable, ideas on the social…show more content…
Rousseau’s social contract heavily focuses on the sovereign body and the common good, and in contrast, Locke emphasizes the importance of life, liberty, and property. Locke also incorporates the use of the sovereign body to establish judiciary laws for those who breach the laws that are in accordance to the life, liberty, and property of man; when man is in the natural state, he is not presented with the liberty to morally punish anyone who has taken advantage of any of the preceding. The sovereign body is a key concept in both philosophers works. The sovereign body serves as a means of deliberation in order to produce stable laws that protect the entirety of the body politic. The two commensurate works affirm the communal and intellectual bond of a society in order to produce an effective and impartial…show more content…
If the government remains in its legitimate state, those who have consented to the social contract are morally obligated to abide by the laws that have been generated by the sovereignty. Locke and Rousseau both examine the dissolution of the government and propose parallel aspects of what constitutes a legitimate government. Rousseau states the sovereign body is always legitimate and holds legislative power as long as there is no specific focus on a particular interest present (find quote). If this focus occurs, then the government is no longer legitimate and the social contract is broken. Like Rousseau, Locke discusses the result of a tyrannical government and how this violates not only the social contract, but man’s natural rights, as well. He explains that when the government immorally focuses on one issue, man reverts back to the state of war. This aspect of Locke’s social contract differs from Rousseau’s because of this reversal of state. Legitimacy can also be breached in context of individual powers of the magistrate. According to Rousseau, in order to maintain legitimacy of the executive power, the magistrate must equally apply the laws established by the sovereignty and evenly distribute force among all that belong in the magistrate. If these aspects are tainted, the government is no longer legitimate and man no longer has to follow the law agreed upon by the sovereign body.