In the first section of Common Sense, Thomas Paine characterizes government as he sees it, which is still an influential viewpoint. His characterization is perhaps best summed up in his own succinct words: “government even in its best state is but a necessary evil.” These words speak measures to his attitude towards the fundamental nature of government—an attitude that shaped a political party in his time that has evolved over time with the core concept relatively intact. For Paine and modern conservatives alike, government is only rendered necessary due to the inadequacies of moral virtue in running a society. To illustrate this concept, Paine supports his idea with a hypothetical island. When a society develops, it will become necessary for a government to compensate for the eventual defect of moral virtue in individuals.
In this regard, Hobbes believed that by their nature, people were selfish but the perspective of Locke was different. He believed that the human beings are good by nature and reasonable and therefore they can self-regulate themselves. However, as a result of these differences, these two philosophers have different outlooks regarding what should be an ideal government. But despite these differences, both of these philosophers had a significant impact on the modern society and has held in changing the world.
Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau have become known as three of the most prominent political theorists in the world today. Their philosophies and innovative thinking is known worldwide and it has influenced the creation of numerous new governments. All three thinkers agree on the idea of a social contract but their opinions differ on how the social contract is established and implemented within each society. These philosophers state, that in order for the social contract to be successful people need to give up certain freedoms in order to secure fundamental protections from the state, henceforth the state then has certain responsibilities to their citizens. Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all believe that before men were governed we all lived in a state of nature.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “The Social Contract” is one of the essentials of the western political thought, interpreted in an extensive and different ways. It encompasses Rousseau’s all-inclusive account of his explicitly political theory where he presents his philosophy in an intangible, legalistic manner far from examination of human essence and changes and developments peculiar to people. As stated by Strauss, the Social Contract is a breakthrough in the course of development of political philosophy, which needs to be estimated accurately because of its content and its further repercussion for the modern history of humanity. The Social Contract is not only about an idealistic and utopian just state, but about a state which leads to a remarkable transformation of each person in a society; however, book is significantly less concrete about workable and realistic ways of creating this alteration. A largely held opinion of Rousseau’s manuscript is that when writing it he was mainly preoccupied with developing an abstract normative perfect model which can serve as criteria for assessing the lawfulness of other existing societies and states, so it was not aimed at suggesting feasible and very explicit ways of achieving that goal.
He even claims that "rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual” (Wills 268). This supports his claim to promote natural rights in the sense that it is what the people are born with and will have what should be given under any circumstances. While Jefferson seems to be the leader in all of this, he is heavily influenced by the ideas and believes that already exist from John Locke, who is also an advocate for the belief in natural rights. He believes that society benefits most when it is in control of their freedom.
The Social Contract Theory In the subject of political philosophy, social contract refers to a theory that explains the origin of the society and the origin of the legitimate authority that is granted to a state over an individual. Social contract argues that there exists some form of agreement whether enforced or willingly for individuals to surrender certain freedoms to the state to take control over so as to bring forth common benefits. In other words, the social contract theory seeks to explain the origin of societies and governments. There exist numerous proponents of this theory who include Thomas Hobbes and Hugo Grotius among others. Hobbes argued that the idea of social contract arose from pure self interest.
Are human beings actions drive only by rational and self-interest, or they having another motivations? Thomas Hobbes an English philosopher explains the Social contract in an easy way; an actual or hypothetical agreement among the members of a society or a community and its ruler that defines and limits the rights and duties of each. (Merriam-Webster) The essence of contractarianism is “Actions are morally right just because they are permitted by rules that free, equal, and rational people would agree to live by, on the conditions that others obey these rules as well.”, which is originated as a political theory and later is developed into a moral theory. There are 2 principal assumptions, the first that we are motivated by self-interest (ethical
Rather than focusing only on state’s selfishness and competitiveness, structural realists (neorealists) believe that states enter into alliances with other states (diplomacy) to regulate and keep a check on the power of other alliances and more powerful states. Although the school of structural realism (neorealism) is developed from the classical realist school, there are key differences between these two types of realism. According to Ferguson (2011) and the lectures and other materials of week 1-3, classical realists primarily focus on explaining the nature of man; that is, human nature is aggressive and human aggregates (states) are thus aggressive too. They argue that behaviors of states derive heavily from human nature, and self-centeredness and self-interestedness are presumed to be the fundamental principles of realism. In contrast to this, structural realists (neorealists)
The importance of both the role of state and society is made clear through the works of liberal thinkers, deeming these roles the most crucial elements in not only securing individual freedoms but also for future progression. Overtime, the interpretation of these roles differs in defining where the role of society and state take place and how each must contribute to each other or matters in which the state should or should not involve itself. The concept of establishing and defining roles of both society and state can be seen in John Locke’s Treatise of Civil Government (1690). In his work, Locke introduces this concept by using the law of nature. The law of nature states men are in a natural state of freedom and equality.
His’ A Theory of Justice’, most significantly, has been a rich source of ideas which continue to impact contemporary discussions about society and politics. Rawls 's Theory of Justice is extensively considered as one of this century 's most important pieces of political philosophy. The renowned philosopher’s ideology takes as its starting point the argument that "the most reasonable principles of justice are those everyone would accept and agree to from a fair position". By using a similar alternative to the social contract, in his Theory of Justice, Rawls addresses the problem of distributive justice. The theory which he then presents us with, “Justice as Fairness", includes his two