Social Contract Theory

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Social Contract Theory of John Locke
Jerome Green Jr.
June 30, 2010
Instructor: Ms. Marie Romero-Martinez

John Locke was one of the preeminent philosopher's of his time. In one of his most successful works, the Two Treaties of Government, Locke asserted that men are by nature free and equal against claims that God had made all people naturally subject to a monarch (Tuckness). Locke argued that people have rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property. Locke's Social Contract Theory is used by sociologists, philosophers, and criminologists. The theory is all encompassing and provides an excellent framework in the study of criminology because it delves into crime and punishment. This paper will explore how John Locke's Social Contract Theory and values are related to the criminal justice system.

John Locke was a British philosopher and is credited as the first person to provide a legitimate basis for civil government (Uzgalis). Locke's social contract theory maintains that people, as part of nature, transfer some of their rights to the government in order to better ensure stability, comfortable enjoyment of their lives, liberty, and property (Tuckness). This correlates directly with the criminal justice system. For example, citizens of the United States have given up or relaxed some of their civil rights in order to aid law enforcement in doing their jobs. In return for this concession policing agencies have vowed to protect and serve citizens and will put their own lives in jeopardy to do so. Locke based his theory on the idea of natural law. The concept of natural law deals with the belief that there are a universal set of rights and wrongs that apply to all people (Pollack). In a criminal justice context, this means that there are some rules that can't be broken no matter who you are or where you are from. Locke believed that to be a member of society is to accept responsibility for following its rules, along with the...
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