The Social Contract Theory is a concept that has played a significant role in shaping modern political thought and the development of democratic societies. This theory suggests that individuals give up some of their rights and freedoms to a governing authority in exchange for protection and security.

But why was this theory so important? Let’s explore.

Background of the Social Contract Theory

The Social Contract Theory was popularized by Enlightenment philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 17th and 18th centuries. These philosophers sought to understand how society could function without descending into chaos or tyranny.

Hobbes’ View

Hobbes believed that humans were inherently selfish and violent, which would lead to a state of anarchy if left unchecked. He argued that individuals should give up their freedom to a strong central authority in exchange for protection from each other.

Quote from Hobbes: “During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man.”

Locke’s View

Locke had a more optimistic view of human nature than Hobbes. He believed that individuals had natural rights such as life, liberty, and property, which should be protected by the government. However, he also believed that individuals should give up some of their freedom to ensure that these rights were protected.

Quote from Locke: “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain but to preserve and enlarge freedom.”

Rousseau’s View

Rousseau took this concept further by arguing that individuals should surrender all their rights to the community as a whole rather than just to a government or ruler. This would create a society where everyone had an equal say in how things were run.

Quote from Rousseau: “The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone.”

Importance of the Social Contract Theory

The Social Contract Theory was important for several reasons:


In conclusion, the Social Contract Theory was a significant development in political thought that helped shape modern democratic societies. It emphasized the importance of individuals giving up some freedom in exchange for protection and security while also placing limits on government power. The theory also highlighted the importance of protecting individual rights.