A Social Contract: Jean-Jacques And Rousseau

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Thomas Hobbes and John Locke Jean-Jacques and Rousseau were philosophers who made highly influential arguments on how a social contract should take form. A social contract is a concept of a consensus thought to be mutually beneficial between and for individuals, groups, government or a community as a whole. All three philosophers use a social contract theory as a means of explaining the necessity of a government in a given society. The aim of this essay is to establish the commonalities and differences between the proposed concepts of social contracts as envisioned by each of the great minds.
Rousseau, Hobbes and Locke are mainly renowned for their masterpieces on political philosophy, Rousseau’s On the Social Contract, Hobbes’ Leviathan and Locke’s Two Treatise of Government. Each has very unique concepts of a social contract. However, they all retain the idea that people in a State of Nature would be willing to compromise their liberty for state protection (Kelly, 2004). Even though they accept that the State of Nature is to a certain degree chaotic, Locke’s State of Nature is far more optimistic, which shows his faith in natural law. Rousseau also describes a scenario where the original freedom, happiness, equality and liberty which used to exist in primitive societies prior to the social contract were lost in the modern civilisation. In contrast Hobbes (2008), describes an unbearable enviroment where the egoistic nature of its inhabitants will generate a state of war.
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