The social contract theory is a fundamental concept in political philosophy that explains the relationship between the state and its citizens. It is a theory that tries to justify the existence of government and how it relates to the governed. Two prominent philosophers who contributed immensely to this theory are Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.

Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher who lived during the 17th century. According to him, human beings are naturally selfish and competitive, which makes life without government chaotic and brutish. In his book ‘Leviathan,’ he argued that people should give up their individual rights to a sovereign ruler in exchange for protection and security.

Hobbes believed that humans would be in a constant state of war if they were left to their own devices. He argued that people needed a strong central authority to keep them in check, or else they would be at each other’s throats all the time. According to him, the sovereign ruler should have absolute power over the citizens as long as they ensured their safety.

Key Points of Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory:
– Humans are naturally selfish and competitive. – Life without government is chaotic and brutish.

– People should give up their individual rights to a sovereign ruler in exchange for protection and security. – The sovereign ruler should have absolute power over the citizens as long as they ensured their safety.

Locke’s Social Contract Theory

John Locke was also an English philosopher who lived during the 17th century. Unlike Hobbes, he had a more optimistic view of human nature. Locke believed that humans were rational beings capable of self-government, which meant they could live together peacefully without a strong central authority.

In his book ‘Two Treatises of Government,’ Locke argued that people had natural rights such as life, liberty, and property which could not be taken away by any government or ruler. According to him, the purpose of government was to protect these rights, and if they failed to do so, citizens had the right to overthrow them.

Locke believed in a limited government where power was divided between different branches and no one had absolute authority. He also argued that people should be able to choose their own government through democratic processes.

Key Points of Locke’s Social Contract Theory:
– Humans are rational beings capable of self-government. – People have natural rights such as life, liberty, and property which cannot be taken away by any government or ruler. – The purpose of government is to protect these rights.

– Citizens have the right to overthrow a government that fails to protect their rights. – Power should be divided between different branches, and no one should have absolute authority. – People should be able to choose their own government through democratic processes.

Differences Between Hobbes’ and Locke’s Social Contract Theory

While both Hobbes and Locke contributed significantly to the social contract theory, there are some fundamental differences between their ideas. The most significant difference is their view of human nature. Hobbes believed that humans were inherently selfish and competitive, while Locke had a more optimistic view of human nature, believing that people were capable of self-government.

Another key difference between their theories is the role of the state. Hobbes believed in an absolute monarchy where the sovereign ruler had complete control over citizens’ lives. On the other hand, Locke advocated for a limited government where power was divided between different branches and no one had absolute authority.

Furthermore, while Hobbes believed that people should give up their individual rights in exchange for protection from the state, Locke argued that people had natural rights such as life, liberty, and property which could not be taken away by any government or ruler. According to him, the purpose of government was to protect these rights rather than control them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the social contract theory is a fundamental concept in political philosophy that explains the relationship between the state and its citizens. While both Hobbes and Locke contributed immensely to this theory, they had significant differences in their ideas.

Hobbes believed in an absolute monarchy where citizens gave up their individual rights to a sovereign ruler, while Locke advocated for a limited government where power was divided between different branches. Additionally, while Hobbes had a pessimistic view of human nature, Locke had a more optimistic one.