Social Contract Theory Thomas Hobbes

2009 Words9 Pages
Social contract theory, nearly as old as philosophy itself, is the view that person 's ' moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. The Social Contract is largely associated with modern moral and political theory, and is given its first full exposition and defense by Thomas Hobbes in his piece, Leviathan. After Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best known proponents of this influential theory, though each have their own unique take on governance, State of Nature, and human existence itself; Hobbes and Rousseau’s arguments are the most compelling out of the trio.
Hobbes ' political philosophy is best understood in two parts: his
…show more content…
By this reasoning, Hobbes concludes that people are too distracted and misled by our own needs to see what is best for our state, therefore we must serve as subjects, rather than constituents. That being said, government, or as he calls it, the Sovereign, is to be distanced from the people for they are too irresponsible and illogical to partake in their own governing, therefore the government is designed to control, not represent. And despite living through the English Revolution, Hobbes also rejects the early democratic view, taken up by the Parliamentarians of his time. The English political revolutionaries of the time believed that power ought to be shared between Parliament and the King, much to the repugnance of Hobbes. By rejecting this ideology, Hobbes maintains his image of a radical conservative for his time.
The plight of the common man is, however, not hopeless. Because men are reasonable, they can see their way out of such a state by recognizing the lex naturalis, or Laws of Nature, which provide them the means to escape the State of Nature and enter a civil society. The first, and arguably most important, Law of Nature commands that every man must be willing to pursue peace when others are willing to do
Get Access