Essay on Hobbes as a Social Covenant Theorist

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Hobbes as a Social Covenant Theorist

Throughout the assigned portions of the Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes proves to be a "social contract" theorist, however inconsistently. Through his explanation of humanity extracting itself out of the state of Nature, by developing rules pertaining to property and contract, by means of the creation of a Sovereign, or Common Wealth, he clearly elucidates the basic concepts of social contract theory.
In order to fully grasp Hobbes' theory of Social Contract, one must first become familiar with his basic premises of "The State of Nature." In this state each individual is inherently in a perpetual state of war, due to several given reasons. Hobbes assumes that "Nature hath made men…equall."
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Expressed by Hobbes, "And therefore, as long as this naturall Right of everyman to every thing endureth there can be no security to any man, of living out the time, which Nature ordinarily alloweth men to live." (Hobbes 190)
In addition to this most inconvenient physical state of nature, Hobbes elaborates upon the "mutuall transferring of right." (Hobbes 192) It is necessary for men to enter into contracts, a mutual agreement made by individuals in order to exchange the "right to the thing." (Hobbes 193) "Things" can range from deciding on peace between two quarreling parties, with demands and peaceful sacrifices from both ends, to an agreement between two merchants for goods and services. At times it is necessary for "one of the Contractors" to, "deliver the Thing contracted for on his part, and leave the other to perform his part at some determinate time after." (Hobbes 193) Thusly, forming this covenant, which promises that a good or service of some sort will be awarded to one of the contractors at a future time. However, in the state of nature, there exists absolutely no assurance that ones contracts or covenants will be upheld. Hobbes argues that it is in everyman's best interest to not fulfill his end of the bargain, as it were. Therefore, due to his "feare of not performance on either part," men are driven, by their own suspicions to create a coercive power, or sovereign, to regulate their contractual agreements and
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