Ubiquitous Social Contract: In political philosophy the social contract or political contract is a theory or model, originating during the Age of Enlightenment, that typically addresses the questions of the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or magistrate (or to the decision of a majority), in exchange for protection of their remaining rights. The question of the relation between natural and legal rights, therefore, is often an aspect of social contract theory. The Social Contract, created by Jean Jacques Rousseau was a book about government reforms and how it should change to suit the people instead of the government.

 

*

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+social+contract&qpvt=images+social+contract&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=2320B90B2AA3DD1C4C4D8B3D9E16B67B0979FE12&selectedIndex=2

*

*

https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/fellow-swiss-calvinist-rousseau-1712-1778-was-a-genevan-philosopher-writer-and-composer-of-the-18th-century-his-political-philosophy-influenced-the-french-revolution-as-well-as-the/

*

*

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract

*

*

Although the antecedents of social contract theory are found in antiquity, in Greek and Stoic philosophy and Roman and Canon Law, as well as in the Biblical idea of the covenant, the heyday of the social contract was the mid-17th to early 19th centuries, when it emerged as the leading doctrine of political legitimacy. The starting point for most social contract theories is a heuristic examination of the human condition absent from any political order that Thomas Hobbes termed the “state of nature.”  In this condition, individuals’ actions are bound only by their personal power and conscience. From this shared starting point, social contract theorists seek to demonstrate, in different ways, why a rational individual would voluntarily consent to give up his or her natural freedom to obtain the benefits of political order.

Hugo Grotius (1625), Thomas Hobbes (1651), Samuel Pufendorf (1673), John Locke (1689), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762), and Immanuel Kant (1797) are among the most prominent of 17th- and 18th-century theorists of social contract and natural rights. Each solved the problem of political authority in a different way. Grotius posited that individual human beings had natural rights; Hobbes asserted that humans consent to abdicate their rights in favor of the absolute authority of government (whether monarchial or parliamentary); Pufendorf disputed Hobbes’s equation of a state of nature with war.

Locke believed that natural rights were inalienable, and that the rule of God therefore superseded government authority; and Rousseau believed that democracy (self-rule) was the best way of ensuring the general welfare while maintaining individual freedom under the rule of law. The Lockean concept of the social contract was invoked in the United States Declaration of Independence. Social contract theories were eclipsed in the 19th century in favor of utilitarianism, Hegelianism, and Marxism, and were revived in the 20th, notably in the form of a thought experiment by John Rawls.

*

*

Thomas Hobbes famously said that in a “state of nature” human life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. In the absence of political order and law, everyone would have unlimited natural freedoms, including the “right to all things” and thus the freedom to plunder, rape, and murder; there would be an endless “war of all against all” (bellum omnium contra omnes). To avoid this, free men contract with each other to establish political community i.e. civil society through a social contract in which they all gain security in return for subjecting themselves to an absolute Sovereign, preferably (for Hobbes) a monarch.

Though the Sovereign’s edicts may well be arbitrary and tyrannical, Hobbes saw absolute government as the only alternative to the terrifying anarchy of a state of nature. Alternatively, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, have argued that we gain civil rights in return for accepting the obligation to respect and defend the rights of others, giving up some freedoms to do so. The central assertion of social contract approaches is that law and political order are not natural, but are instead human creations. The social contract and the political order it creates are simply the means towards an end — the benefit of the individuals involved — and legitimate only to the extent that they fulfill their part of the agreement.

According to Hobbes (in whose view government is not a party to the original contract) citizens are not obligated to submit to the government when it is too weak to act effectively to suppress factionalism and civil unrest. According to other social contract theorists, citizens can withdraw their obligation to obey or change the leadership, through elections or other means including, when necessary, violence, when the government fails to secure their natural rights (Locke) or satisfy the best interest of society (called the “general will” in Rousseau, who is more concerned with forming new governments than in overthrowing old ones).

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s