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Social contract theory - Essay Example

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Social contract theory

Hobbes explains the social contract as a mutual agreement among the members of society to observe some rules of conduct and give up some freedom for the well being of the society. This paper seeks to explain the relationship between the social contract and the duty to obey laws. Whether we have the moral obligation to obey laws or not has remained a question of contention in the field of philosophy for a considerably long time today. The debate dates back to the days of Plato, through the middle age. There seems to be a great rift in the world of philosophy today concerning the principles behind the obedience of rules. According to morality, which is the obligation for an individual to do that which is right for them, all human beings are morally obliged to obey the law. Going back to the fundamental definition of a contract in any field of study, it is quite obvious that a contract is a give-and take relationship among various parties. This means that, in any form of contract, either party has to sacrifice something to some extent. This is to imply that, for there to exist a legal contract, either party has to agree to the terms and conditions governing the relationship. A social contract is an agreement between the individual and the society or the people. As such, all members of society have to abandon the freedom offered by nature, for there to be a sensible society (Rousseau 28). A society is an organized order made up of individuals, groups and classes of people. The term organized here is used to signify some sort of discipline or structures that govern the events taking place within the society. It is a matter of general understanding that where there is social control, there has to be a sort of an officially authorized framework. Again, for there to be order, all members of society have to follow the rules and regulations keenly and observe every part of the system. It is, therefore, open to see that everyone has the moral obligation to obey rules since, through such rules, control is achieved. Scholars have cited peaceful coexistence as one of the primary reasons why people ought to obey the laws. Thomas Hobbes explains a world with no rules. The image that comes into the mind is one of an anarchical society with no order. Such a society, where freewill and approval are the determinants of what people should do or refrain from doing, is likely to be a world full of confusion and disorder. This is because the wills of different individuals are not identical and for this point, people are likely to clash over various issues. For instance, the instincts of a person could tell him or her that killing yields pleasure. In the absence of laws, such a person would use the logic of his morals and kill others. By all theoretical principles and theories, taking away the life of an individual is morally wrong except for situations in which going by contextual ethics, killing becomes necessary. According to Thomas Hobbes, all members of society are equal if and only if such a society is a controlled and moderated one. He also explains that if nature would be allowed to prevail, balance would be unheard of (Rousseau 32). This is because is a society where nature is the primary force driving the intentions and actions of people, such concepts as survival for the fittest come into the picture. Where survival for the ...Show more

Summary

Insert Date The Social Contract Theory and the Obligation to Obey Laws The theory of social contracts dates back to the days of Plato. Plato is known to be one of the most influential thinkers in the world of philosophy. However, Plato did not improve the concept comprehensively…
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