Essay on What is the Function of a Social Contract?

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What is the Function of a Social Contract?

Philosophers have been concerned with the theories of a social contract for thousands of years. Plato mentions the concept in Crito and in Republic. These theories have stemmed from the concept of justice and for our society to be just. I will look at the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau and finally with John Rawls after which a overall view into the function of a social contract can be derived as well as any problems with the theory(s).

The basic concept of a social contract is for members of society to enter into a voluntary contract, which allows society to go from a state of nature to a state of civilisation. What is meant by a state of nature is quite similar
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Hobbes felt this was not important and what was more important was that fulfil the contract and ensure security to the society.
John Locke adopted a similar standpoint as Hobbes in his theory of a social contract. He starts with the same original position of man in a state of nature where there is no common superior and all men are equal. This state gives man all the benefits of his own labour but Locke felt this situation was ¡¥uncertain and constantly under threat¡¦. This threat is what Locke regards as a reason to move to a civil society. Like Hobbes, Locke regards this move as a voluntary act. This allows a person to enjoy the benefits of their labour and protection of their property. Although many people have an interest in preserving their personal property the question of how someone may consent to this is raised. Locke explained that if a person stayed in a state even for a little time that would account for consent in itself. This means that if a person is enjoying the benefits a state is providing they have automatically consented.
Jean Jacques Rousseau had also theorised on social contract in his book the Social Contract. The main concept of Rousseau¡¦s theory was that ¡¥each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will¡¦. Rousseau also states that we cannot ¡¥enjoy the rights citizenship while refusing to
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