Essay on John Locke And The Social Contract Theory

Essay on John Locke And The Social Contract Theory

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The Social Contract Theory is the concept that in the beginning, people lived in the state of nature. This means that they had no government and there were no laws to dictate their lives. Thomas Hobbes (The Leviathan), John Locke (Second Treatise of Government), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Social Contract) discusses what they believe the Social Contract Theory. Each philosopher has different views depending on their understandings of human nature, the nature of the contract, the legitimate powers of the government, and the obligations of the citizens and political authority. With respect to these factors, each philosopher discusses the state, law, and rights of nature. These are all inclusive in the Social Contract Theory.
According to Thomas Hobbes, people live in the state of nature. This is a state of constant war where morality among citizens does not exist. In this state of nature people are constantly living selfishly and in fear, and because of this constant fear, no one is truly free. To add to this fear, is the notion that Hobbes believes that people are inherently evil; therefore even the weakest of man can kill the strongest if such actions are necessary. Life in this state of nature is poor, nasty, brutish and very short. He suggests that this state of nature is primitive, and if there are laws or rulers, one should constantly travel with arms to protect themselves since they have the right to absolute freedom. Above everything, the people are encouraged to do whatever it takes to survive because it is a dog-eat-dog world and people will always be thinking about their own self-interest.
In Hobbes’ state of nature, people have the right of nature, or jus natural, “the liberty that each man, hath to use his own power, as...

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...; they are drawn to what they desire, but backs away from that which is unfavorable. Although people only have self-interest, they are able to think about what is best for themselves so they are able to submit to authority (the sovereign) if they believe that that is the best option available to them. For Locke, the state of nature does not exist without problem; however you have to know how to deal with that problem. Therefore, the government and law are created to protect the rights of men and the laws are binding if they fulfill this purpose and if not, the government can be thrown out of power. Rousseau favors the people’s sovereignty, and majority rule will always win over minority rule because the general will is determined by what the community wants. For Rousseau, similar to Locke, the state exists to preserve and protect the natural rights of the people.

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