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Social Contract Theory - Essay Example

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Name 13 November 2012 Assignment The Social Contract Theory states that individuals came together in order to form a contract by way of which they could form a union of a State under the rules of which they could live together in peace by maintain order and stability…
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Social Contract Theory
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Social Contract Theory

Hobbes’ views of the theory were laid down against the backdrop of the Civil War in 1665 in his magnum opus, ‘Leviathan’ meaning sea monster. This paper focuses however on the moral aspect of law that human beings living together are supposed to obey and how far this obligation extends with respect to other people and their rights. Furthermore, if there were a law in place, then would individuals be obligated to obey it and why, and also the objections that rise from following such a law and the loopholes that are still left uncovered. According to Hobbes, society was extremely gloomy at the time and an individual lived a life which was ‘solitary, nasty, brutish, poor, short.’ (Leviathan, ch. 8) Thus, he stated that for an individual to get out of such a condition, it was necessary to establish an absolute monarchy by way of the social contract so that the monarch power could take control of the state and provide the individuals with some sort of solace. Hobbes talked about the state of nature being a condition of life where people lived without rules and the government presiding over every matter, however had the common sense enough to not infringe upon another person’s rights. What is not to be infringed upon may be decided by understanding what is moral and what is not. For this theory to prevail men would have to understand the concept of morality and understand what according to society and moral and what is immoral in nature. If an act carried out appeals to the majority portion of society and does not ask an individual to question another’s happiness based on his own it would tend to be moral. For example, killing someone is not acceptable to most part of society and thus if someone is killed, unless it is the friends and family of the individual a distant person would not be affected by it to a large extent. Nonetheless, it counts as being immoral in the eyes of many. On the other hand, returning a book late to the library does not affect the happiness of any individual and thus is not considered to be immoral. In a state of nature, there are no social goods like education, housing, technology, farming etc and thus human conditions are poor, nasty, brutish and short. In order to avoid such a state where there is scarcity of social and economic goods, the main aim of the social contract must be understood which is to create and maintain a stat of social order in society in order to help everyone cooperate with one another. Then if possible, the aim is to end the state of nature in order to begin producing social and economic goods which can be distributed among the people. People living in the state of nature would obviously want to evade or avoid it because of the terrible human conditions they are subject to and this is where morality steps in. If a human being is given a better opportunity at living his life in a substantial manner as well as a more productive manner, they will ultimately tend to be moral. The nature of morality states that “the set of rules, governing behaviour, that rational people will accept, on the condition that others accept them as well” and as per this, rational people will tend to accept the social contract because it would lead to harmonious and peaceful living. The Prisoner’s Dilemma is an excellent theory to understand the idea of the social contract theory. According to this, an individual is arrested in a totalitarian society and accused of siding with another spy and conspiring against the ... Read More
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