Social Contract Theory Essay

Debates during the French Revolution and the early history of the American Republic were often conducted in the language of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.Later political philosophy can only be understood against this backdrop.To develop their theories of government they started with man in his original condition, or “the state of nature”.

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Twelve thoughtfully selected essays guide students through the texts, familiarizing them with key elements of the theory, while at the same time introducing them to current scholarly controversies. The classical social contract theorists represent one of the two or three most important modern traditions in political thought.

Their ideas dominated political debates in Europe and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries, influencing political thinkers, statesmen, constitution makers, revolutionaries, and other political actors alike.

Chapter 5 3 The Failure of Hobbes' Social Contract Argument Chapter 6 4 Hobbes' Social Contract Chapter 7 5 Why Ought One Obey God?

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Hobbes published Leviathan, or the Matter, Form and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil in 1651, writing that his book was “occasioned by the disorders of the present time.” (leviathan).

Locke published Two Treaties of Government in 1690 “to justify” (TTo G) the struggle of 1640 1660 and the revolution of 1688. The certainty and stability that had been provided by the divine authority of the monarch had been removed.Thomas Hobbes (1588 1679) and John Locke (1632 1704) developed their political theories at a time of religious, political and social upheaval in England.They were archetypal enlightenment figures well acquainted with the scientific and philosophical concerns of their time.Government was held to be of God rather than a human contrivance.There was a “contract of subjection” theory which held that the ruler should provide justice and protection for his subjects in return for their obedience (k 209).James 1, King of England (1603 –25), in his True Law of Free Monarchies admits that the king ought to behave honorably but that if he did not and broke his side of their contract that did not release his subjects from obedience.The enlightenment, the period from the mid seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, saw a move away from theological or religious based thinking to inquiry founded on scientific reasoning .Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a student.This is not an example of the work produced by our Law Essay Writing Service.)On the other hand, it seems monstrous to suppose that we have no obligations to those outside of our society at all --for example, we agree that we have an obligation not to engage in wanton destruction of other societies.This reader introduces students of philosophy and politics to the contemporary critical literature on the classical social contract theorists: Thomas Hobbes (1599-1697), John Locke (1632-1704), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778).


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