Social Contract Theory By Hobbes Locke And Rousseau Pdf

social contract theory by hobbes locke and rousseau pdf

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Social contract

At the heart of representative government is the question: "What makes government and its agents legitimate authorities? What are the functions of public authority? What are the people's rights in a self-governing and representative state? Patrick Riley presents a comprehensive historical analysis of the meaning of contract theory and a testing of the inherent validity of the ideas of consent and obligation. He uncovers the critical relationship between the act of willing and that of consenting in self-government and shows how "will" relates to political legitimacy. His is the first large-scale study of social contract theory from Hobbes to Rawls that gives "will" the central place it occupies in contractarian thinking. Will and Political Legitimacy.

Myths, bliks, and the Social Contract

Social contract , in political philosophy , an actual or hypothetical compact, or agreement, between the ruled and their rulers, defining the rights and duties of each. In primeval times, according to the theory, individuals were born into an anarchic state of nature , which was happy or unhappy according to the particular version. They then, by exercising natural reason , formed a society and a government by means of a contract among themselves. Although similar ideas can be traced to the Greek Sophists , social-contract theories had their greatest currency in the 17th and 18th centuries and are associated with such philosophers as the Englishmen Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and the Frenchman Jean-Jacques Rousseau. What distinguished these theories of political obligation from other doctrines of the period was their attempt to justify and delimit political authority on the grounds of individual self-interest and rational consent. By comparing the advantages of organized government with the disadvantages of the state of nature, they showed why and under what conditions government is useful and ought therefore to be accepted by all reasonable people as a voluntary obligation. These conclusions were then reduced to the form of a social contract, from which it was supposed that all the essential rights and duties of citizens could be logically deduced.

The idea of the social contract goes back at least to Epicurus Thrasher In its recognizably modern form, however, the idea is revived by Thomas Hobbes; it was developed in different ways by John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. After Kant, the idea largely fell into disrepute until it was resurrected by John Rawls. It is now at the heart of the work of a number of moral and political philosophers. The basic idea seems simple: in some way, the agreement of all individuals subject to collectively enforced social arrangements shows that those arrangements have some normative property they are legitimate, just, obligating, etc. Even this basic idea, though, is anything but simple, and even this abstract rendering is objectionable in many ways.


PDF | This paper provides a small summary of Social Contract Theory by Hobbes​, Locke and Rousseau. It discusses what is the social contract.


Contemporary Approaches to the Social Contract

Philosophy, Children, and the Family pp Cite as. In this paper I would like to explore the conceptual links between the family union and political society in so far as both are treated by the philosophers who are generally acknowledged to belong to the social contract tradition of modern moral and political philosophy, particularly Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content.

The Family and Social Contract Theory

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It is often associated with the liberal tradition in political theory, because it presupposes the fundamental freedom and equality of all those entering into a political arrangement and the associated rights that follow from the principles of basic freedom and equality. The social contract captures a consensus, sometimes built on explicit consent, sometimes on tacit consent, and sometimes it operates as a hypothetical account of what associates ought to consent to if they are reasoning well. For both Rousseau and Rawls, these concepts are intended not as empirical accounts of how human beings reason but as normative accounts of how they ought to reason. Prior to the work of Hobbes, Grotius, and Locke, the predominant view of political legitimacy drew on the patriarchal power of fathers over their children, going all the way back to the power granted by God to Adam. When Adam died, his eldest descendant inherited his authority by primogeniture. As ensuing generations were born, power continued to be passed on in this manner, from each head of household to his eldest descendant. Eventually, peoples divided and nations were formed, but all power continued to be derived from God and the principle primogeniture remained the standard by which sovereign power could be deemed legitimate.

Contemporary Approaches to the Social Contract

All the three philosophers held the view that the state or civil society or body politic was the product of contract made by men who lived in the state of nature. There are few similarities among them, but differences are more prominent. In this comparative survey we first deal with the nature of state as it is revealed in the writings of these three writers.

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