Which Book of Hobbes Featured the Social Contract Theory?


Diego Sanchez

The Social Contract Theory is a fundamental concept in political philosophy that explores the relationship between individuals and the state. One of the most prominent proponents of this theory was Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher who lived during the 17th century. Hobbes addressed this theory in his influential book, Leviathan.

Hobbes and the Social Contract Theory

Hobbes’s work on political philosophy was groundbreaking, and his ideas continue to shape our understanding of society and government. In his book Leviathan, he presented a compelling argument for the social contract theory.

The social contract theory suggests that individuals willingly enter into an agreement with each other to form a society and establish a governing authority. This agreement, or social contract, is based on the understanding that individuals give up some of their natural rights in exchange for protection and security provided by the government.

The Essence of Hobbes’s Argument

Hobbes argued that without a strong central authority, human life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” He believed that people are naturally self-interested and driven by their desires. In such a state of nature, individuals would constantly be engaged in conflicts with one another as they seek to fulfill their own interests.

To escape this state of perpetual conflict, Hobbes proposed that individuals should surrender their rights to a sovereign ruler or government. This ruler would have absolute power to maintain order and protect its citizens from harm. In return for giving up certain freedoms, individuals gain security and stability under the rule of law.

The Role of Government According to Hobbes

According to Hobbes, the primary role of government is to maintain peace and prevent chaos within society. He believed that only a powerful central authority could effectively enforce laws and regulations necessary for social order. Without this authority, he argued, society would descend into anarchy.

Hobbes’s concept of the social contract was revolutionary because it challenged the prevailing belief in divine right monarchy. He advocated for a government that derives its power from the consent of the governed rather than from a divine source.


In summary, Thomas Hobbes’s book Leviathan is where he extensively discussed his views on the social contract theory. His ideas have had a profound impact on political philosophy and continue to shape our understanding of government and society. Hobbes’s argument for a strong central authority as a means to maintain peace and order remains influential today.

By examining Hobbes’s work, we gain valuable insights into the nature of human beings and their relationship with the state. The social contract theory continues to be an essential concept in political discourse, reminding us of the delicate balance between individual freedoms and societal obligations.