Social Contract Theory

Topics: Social contract, Political philosophy, United States Declaration of Independence Pages: 5 (1529 words) Published: September 9, 2013
Social Contract Theory
Amber C. Brown
September 2, 2013
Cyril Vierra

Social Contract Theory
The social contract theory was one that emerged in response to human enlightenment and civic awareness (Souryal, 2007). The theory was based on the belief that natural human existence without a binding contract among those who live together would create danger (Souryal, 2007). Without a contact people would not be secure in their property, rights or claims; fights would break out in which stronger would overcome the weaker and human freedom from dependence would be destroyed (Souryal, 2007) . The theory stated that human beings are individual and each deserve and independent identity. This theory had two main philosopher’s whom studied social contract and expanded upon the existence of the theory. Thomas Hobbes was the first advocate and later came John Locke who built upon what Hobbes’s theory was and expanded it to greater things. Summary of Contract Theories

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) advocated that individuals would be best served by entering into a collective agreement that could ensure a person’s individual security and prosperity (Souryal, 2007). He advocated that it was of upmost importance for the need of a central governing authority (Souryal, 2007). In this he meant that there was an inherent need that some type of binding contract was needed in order to settle conflicts and resolve disputes. Without this governing body, the safety of the people and preservation of their property would be in question (Souryal, 2007). When the commonwealth is ruled, peace would be maintained, justice would be preserved and collective happiness would be achieved (Souryal, 2007).

John Locke can around from 1632-1704 and he built upon Hobbes’s social contract theory making it into a greater essay on freedom. (Souryal, 2007) He merged the concepts of freedom and government into the larger doctrine of liberalism (Souryal, 2007). He advocated that an individual freedom was the supreme end of government (Souryal, 2007). Locke favored a more liberal form of government than an absolute monarchy. Locke was all about the individual and making sure that the individual was free to do and say as they please when it came to the governing bodies (Souryal, 2007). The role of the political authority should be limited as to only when necessary means call for it. The political role would only be used when it came to settling exceptional disputes that arose between individuals or groups (Souryal, 2007). Locke had a keen eye to man’s moral judgment and people brought into the society had a sense of natural decency (Souryal, 2007). Locke did not believe in a monarchy and every man was pretty much to fend for themselves unless otherwise noted and this would be in rare instances and the governing body should not get involved in on basic things that could be solved between the parties having the dispute (Souryal, 2007) . Natural law was viewed and a state of perfect freedom, conducive to a market economy, an extensive commerce and an unlimited opportunity for the pursuit of happiness (Souryal, 2007). However, Locke was often time criticized for his views on liberalism being too idealistic, if not our right naïve (Souryal, 2007). In the end however, many of his principles were incorporated in the Declaration of Independence and as a result the United States became the free and prosperous nation it is currently (Souryal, 2007).

Lastly there was the French philosopher Montesquieu (1689-1755) who introduced to the world the social idea of laws in in The Spirit of the Law (Souryal, 2007) s. He too devoted his studies to that of natural law and agreed with Locke and thought natural law provided adequate standards of justice, happiness and morality (Souryal, 2007). He distinguished the government by referring to the nature of government which was the number of people that possessed supreme power (Souryal, 2007). By the...

References: Fitzpatrick, M. (2013, September 1). The Advantages of a Social Contract Theory. Retrieved from
McAffee, T. B. (1992). The Bill Of Rights, Social Contract Theory, and the Rights “Retained” by the People. Scholarly Works, 533. Retrieved from
Mwita, D. (2011, June). Social Contract Theory of John Locke (1932-1704) in the Contemporary World. Retrieved from
Souryal, S. S. (2007). Ethics in Criminal Justice: In Search of the Truth (4th ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Elsevier Inc.
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