The Social Contract of John Locke
The concept of the social contract comes from Socrates, as described by Plato in Crito. “Then the laws will say: ‘Consider, Socrates, if we are speaking truly that in your present attempt you are going to do us an injury. For, having brought you into the world, and nurtured and educated you, and given you and every other citizen a share in every good which we had to give, we further proclaim to any Athenian by the liberty which we allow him, that if he does not like us when he has become of age and has seen the ways of the city, and made our acquaintance, he may go where he pleases and take his goods with him. None of us laws will forbid him or interfere with him. Anyone who does not like us and the city, and who wants to emigrate to a colony or to any other city, may go where he likes, retaining his property. But he who has experience of the manner in which we order justice and administer the state, and still remains, has entered into an implied contract that he will do as we commend him. And he who disobeys us is, as we maintain, thrice wrong; first, because in disobeying us he is disobeying his parents; secondly, because we are the authors of his education; thirdly, because he has made an agreement with us that he will duly obey our commands; and he neither obeys them nor convinces us that our commands are unjust; and we do not rudely impose them, but give him the alternative of obeying or convincing us;—that is what we offer, and he does neither (Philosophy, 2011).” According to social contract theory (SCT), morality consists in the set of rules governing behavior that rational people would accept, on condition that others accept them as well (Kary, 2000). There are several implications of SCT. These implications are things that are necessary for the survival of any society (Kary, 2000). 1. Protection of life and property. This will create the need for a police force. So as to insure that murders, assault, theft and vandalism crimes are not committed. 2. Rules that would be needed to secure the benefits of social living. This is creating consequences for the breaking of contracts (e.g. promises) and a general requirement of truth-telling. 3. Protection of society against outside threats. This implication creates the need for an army. 4. Other important stuff – these are things that are arguably, should be a part of the social contract (i.e. it would be in everyone’s interest to have them include (Kary, 2000). The caveat to that is, a society might be able to survive (if not thrive) without them. The author will discuss the different theories but more specifically John Locke’s social contract theory and how it relates to the criminal justice system and security agents.
Four Main Social Contract Theories
There are four critical social contract theories that the author will discuss, compare and contrast. They are: consent of the governed, natural law and constitutionalism, tacit consent and voluntarism. Consent of the Governed
“Consent of the governed” is a phrase from the United States Declaration of Independence. It is synonymous with a political theory wherein a government’s legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and legal when derived from the people or society over which the political power is exercised (Bookman, 1984). This theory of “consent” is historically contrasted to the divine right of kings and has often been invoked against the legitimacy of colonialism (Bookman, 1984). There are several types of consent: unanimous consent, hypothetical consent and overt versus tacit consent (Bookman, 1984). The details of each type of consent are not discussed in this project, but are mentioned so that the reader is aware that they exist. Natural law and Constitutionalism
Natural law is a law or body of laws that derives from nature and is believed to be binding upon human actions apart from or in conjunction with laws...
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Kary, J. (2000). Contract Law and the Social Contract: What Legal History Can Teach Us About the Political Theory Hobbes and Locke. 31 Ottawa Law Review 73.
Nyamaka, D. M. (2011). Social Contract Theory of John Locke (1632-1740) In the Contemporary World. Selected Works, 1-15.
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Skinner, Q. (1978). The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: Volume 2: The Age of the Reformation (Vol. 2). Cambridge: Cambridge University.
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