Coexistence of Equality and Inequality under the Social Contract

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Political theories abound, considering many parts of society and the body politic. John Locke was one of the first to expound on the origins of property, and sixty-six years later Jean-Jacques Rousseau would also address the issues of property and inequality. According to Locke and Rousseau, the social contract is sanctioned by formal equalities yet creates or gives way to inequalities after it is formed. Though Locke would argue that inequalities in the private sphere don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the government, Rousseau would say justice gets deformed through inequality. Understanding how both equality and inequality can be present under the terms of the social contract is important because we cannot understand how to …show more content…
Since everything was owned in common at first, Locke argues that individuals appropriate property when they add their labor to something owned in common and therefore improve it. Locke would also say that you don’t just get to take as much as you want, but that there must be as much of and as good of left for others. Locke also defines the public and private sphere(how/what is he defining it through? Through him talking about slavery etc paragraph 85, 89 ). Political relationships are made between equal men, and these relationships (civil society) cannot be dissolved. The establishment of civil society established equality among men because each had to agree to it. Each man equally gives up some rights, and equally receives the same protection from the sovereign. The civil society, as an entity, makes a contract with the sovereign and in so doing, resigns the power to judge in their own case to the sovereign. According to Locke, the whole point of civil society was to ensure that each had their own property so that there was prosperity. For Rousseau, the first sign of inequality is when people begin to be more highly regarded based on overall physical appearance and ability; from these first preferences, vanity, contempt, shame, and envy were born. As soon as one man realized it was beneficial to have the assistance of another, equality disappeared, property came into
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