The Social Contract Theory is one of the most influential and widely discussed political theories. It is a theory that aims to explain the origins of political authority and the legitimacy of the state.

The theory suggests that individuals voluntarily surrender some of their rights to a government or other authority in exchange for protection and security. This theory was first introduced by Thomas Hobbes in his book Leviathan, which was published in 1651.

Hobbes’ State of Nature

According to Hobbes, human beings are naturally selfish and violent creatures who are constantly at war with each other. In this state of nature, there is no morality, law, or order.

Life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Therefore, humans need a social contract to escape this state of nature and establish order.

The Social Contract

The social contract is an agreement between individuals to surrender their natural rights in exchange for protection and security provided by a government or other authority. According to Hobbes, individuals do not enter into this contract voluntarily but rather out of necessity. The alternative is the chaos and violence that exist in the state of nature.

The Leviathan

Hobbes argues that the only way to enforce this social contract is to establish a single sovereign power – “the Leviathan.” This sovereign power holds absolute authority over its subjects and has the power to enforce laws and punish wrongdoers.

The Role of Government

Hobbes believed that government’s role was not just to maintain law and order but also to ensure peace among its subjects. The government should have complete control over its citizens’ lives so that it can prevent them from resorting back into their natural state of violence.

In conclusion, Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory proposes that individuals give up some of their rights to a government or other authority in exchange for protection and security. This theory is based on the idea that humans are naturally selfish and violent creatures who need a social contract to escape the state of nature.

Hobbes’ argument that a single sovereign power is necessary to enforce this contract has been widely criticized. However, his ideas remain an important part of modern political theory and continue to influence debates about the role of government in society.