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Social Contract or Social Compact Theory
Pages 4 (1004 words)
The social contract or social compact theory became popular during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This theory explained that the state was formed by means of social contract of men who lived in a state of nature. What the "state of nature" meant was that men lived together without any super-body to establish peace and order and settle conflicts…
Thus, in a social contract to which they voluntarily consented, they created the state for the purpose of promoting and preserving their natural rights to life, liberty and property. Hobbes' social contract was not really a special contract, since there was no contract or covenant between the ruler and the subjects. The sovereign had no obligations to his subjects nor could they limit his exercise of absolute power.
It was John Locke who painted a picture of liberty of citizens and authority of government in tones which were far moderate than that of Thomas Hobbes. Men in a state of nature could make use of their perfect freedom for their own good, since they were reasonable men. To John Locke, men did not abuse their Liberty. They did not threaten the lives of their neighbors. He wrote:
Though this is a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license. The state of nature of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone; and reason, which is that law that teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent; no one has a right to harm another in his life, health, liberty of possessions. 1
Locke's social contract favored men quitting the state of nature to form themselves into a civil society. ...
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