Locke And Rousseau 's Theory Of A Social Contract

1206 WordsApr 1, 20175 Pages
John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau are often associated with modern liberal ideas such as equality for all citizens, freedom and liberty, etc… However, Locke and Rousseau present far more nuanced arguments in their works and although they share views on some aspects they ultimately have a different political philosophy. Locke and Rousseau have clearly distinct social contract theories, interpretations of man and the state of nature. In his work, Discourse on Inequality, establishes the idea of a fraudulent social contract. Rousseau further develops his political theory and discusses contemporary themes like the state of nature in, The Social Contract. There is a clear distinction between Rousseau’s theory and Locke’s theory as laid out…show more content…
Rousseau reinforces his claims by arguing it is far more plausible that such an agreement, (i.e. the “fraudulent social contract), was formulated by its beneficiaries, the rich. “Thirdly: because, as the poor had nothing but their freedom to lose, it would have been in the highest degree absurd for them to resign voluntarily the only good they still enjoyed, without getting anything in exchange … because it is more reasonable to suppose a thing to have been invented by those to whom it would be of service, than by those whom it must have harmed.”2 There are key differences between Locke’s social contract theory and Rousseau’s social contract theory. Although Locke’s theory does discuss similar themes to that of Rousseau, the two have different perspectives. In his discussion of political societies, Locke initially states that in the state of nature, man is free and is “the absolute lord of his own person and possessions.”3 Locke follows this up with hypotheticals stating, “Why will he[man] part with his freedom? Why will he give up this lordly status and subject himself to the control of someone’s else power?”4 Locke responds to such questions by arguing that although man has unlimited right to his possessions, there is no guarantee that a man’s possessions are safe from invasion. Since all men are equal in the natural state and not many are fair or just, a man’s property isn’t secured and almost
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