John Locke's Social Contract Theory

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John Locke’s Social Contract Theory
Jon Bartholf
CJA530: Ethics in Justice and Security
October 10, 2011
Cristina Payne

Abstract The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, incorporates many of the views and ideas of John Locke, an English philosopher, and his writings of the Social Contract theory. Within the theory, Locke states that society should be afforded certain unalienable rights (life, liberty, and happiness) that give authority and control to the people and not the government. Additionally, Locke states that God created everyone equally and as such, they are entitled to the same amount of property as everyone else. His ideas would later shape the United States from a group of a few territories into a nation.

John Locke’s Social Contract Theory
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson, 1776, para. 1) when he created the Declaration of Independence. His words formed the foundation of the United States and give meaning to the word “freedom,” but to be “free” means to be unrestricted by anything physical, emotional, sociological, ethical, and physiological. Laws and societal norms placed upon humanity challenge the meaning of the word as the government has the authority and power to create and abolish laws that dictate what society can and cannot do. However, it is through the enactment of the Declaration of Independence, a document whose words were based on the theories of John Locke, which the people, not the government, are given ultimate control. In this article, the reader will learn about John Locke’s contribution to the Social Contract theory. Moreover, this article will also show how his thoughts and attitudes led to the development of the Declaration of Independence and how those views are consistent with the criminal justice system.
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References: Friend, C. (2004). Social Contract Theory. Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/soc-cont/. Jefferson, T. (1776). The Declaration of Independence. Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/ exhibits/charters/declaration.html. Locke, J. (1963). Two Treaties of Government. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Miller, L. S. & Hess, K. M. (2008). Community Policing: Partnerships for Problem Solving (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth. The Library of Congress (2011). Primary Documents in American History. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Constitution.html.

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