The Social Contract Theory has had a significant influence on the formation of the government of the United States. This theory, which originated in the 17th and 18th centuries, was used to justify the social order and political authority of governments. The idea behind this theory is that individuals give up some of their natural rights to a governing authority in exchange for protection and security.
The Origins of Social Contract Theory
The Social Contract Theory can be traced back to Thomas Hobbes, who believed that humans are inherently selfish and violent. He argued that without a sovereign authority to maintain order, life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” In his book Leviathan, he proposed that people should enter into a social contract with a strong government to maintain stability and security.
John Locke’s Contribution
Another prominent figure in the development of the Social Contract Theory was John Locke. He believed that individuals were born with natural rights such as life, liberty, and property.
He argued that these rights were inalienable and could not be taken away by any government or authority. However, he also believed that individuals had an obligation to form a social contract with their government to protect these rights.
The Influence on American Government
The ideas of Hobbes and Locke influenced many of the founding fathers of the United States. They believed in limited government with specific powers granted by the people through a social contract. The Constitution was written as a result of this belief system with checks and balances built-in to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful.
- The Legislative Branch makes laws.
- The Executive Branch enforces laws.
- The Judicial Branch interprets laws.
The Bill of Rights was added to protect individual liberties from potential abuse by the government. These rights include freedom of speech, religion, and the press, the right to bear arms, and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In conclusion, the Social Contract Theory had a profound impact on the formation of the United States government. It served as a basis for limited government with specific powers granted by the people through a social contract. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were written with these beliefs in mind and continue to influence American politics today.