Thomas Hobbes and John Locke's Varying Presentations of the Social Contract Theory

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Both Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are well-known political philosophers and social contract theorists. Social Contract Theory is, “the hypothesis that one’s moral obligations are dependent upon an implicit agreement between individuals to form a society.” (IEP, Friend). Both Hobbes and Locke are primarily known for their works concerning political philosophy, namely Hobbes’ Leviathan and Locke’s Two Treatise of Government. Both works contain a different view of a State of Nature and lay out social contracts designed to neutralize the chaos inherent in that state. Though Hobbes and Locke have a different understanding of the State of Nature, they share similar social contracts, except with regards to representation and the role of the…show more content…
Because of this, Hobbes argues, it is impossible for anyone to live a more fulfilling life or improve their lives and no morality exists because self-preservation comes before all else. As a result of Hobbes’ definition of the State of Nature, his views on the role of government and representation are thus: Hobbes believes that the role of the government is to impose law and order on a populace in order to keep man’s natural state of war at bay. Government is created for the sole purpose of neutralizing Hobbes’ State of Nature and their creation is thus meant to allow people the opportunity to pursue improving their lives without mortal fear at every moment. As a result of his stated role of government, Hobbes’ social contract leaves no room for representation by the people. Hobbes’ preferred government would be an absolute monarchy because according to Hobbes’ State of Nature, men need to be controlled, and that is all. Hobbes’ view on government is that it is meant to maintain order, not pander to the will of the people. Hobbes believes that because the State of Nature is so chaotic and brutal, that without a powerful and solitary sovereign who wields complete and utter authority, any form of a social contract would be ineffective. Hobbes believes that because of the State of Nature, specifically the aspect where all people are equally capable of harming others, having multiple rulers or “sovereigns” would only intensify the already

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