What Social Contract Is

The level at which the subject matter of the contract is described is likely to influence the outcome of the agreement. «A striking feature from Hobbes` point of view,» Hardin points out, «is that this is a relative assessment of the overall condition. Living in a form of government versus living under anarchy» (2003, 43). Hobbes could plausibly argue that everyone would agree with the social contract because «life under government» is better from everyone`s point of view than «living under anarchy» (the basic condition). However, when a Hobbesian woman tried to divide the treaty into finer agreements on the various functions of government, she was inclined to conclude that an agreement on many functions would not be possible. If we (Lister, 2010) «zoom» in on the finer functions of government, the treaty tends to become more limited. If parties simply question whether government is better than anarchy, they will opt for almost any government (including, for example, a government that funds the arts); When they wonder whether they should have a government that funds the arts or a government that doesn`t, it`s easy to see how they can disagree on the former. Similarly, when the parties deliberate on entire moral codes, there may be a broad consensus that all moral codes as a whole are in the interest of all; When we «zoom in» on certain rights and obligations, we tend to get a very different answer. John Locke`s conception of the social contract differed from Hobbes` in several fundamental ways, retaining only the central notion that people in a state of nature would willingly come together to form a state. Locke believed that individuals in a state of nature would be morally obligated not to injure each other in their lives or possessions by natural law. Without a government to defend them against those who want to hurt or enslave them, Locke continued to believe that people have no security in their rights and would live in fear. Individuals, according to Locke, would only agree to form a state that, in part, would provide a «neutral judge» who would protect the life, liberty, and property of those who lived there.

[14] Like no other party, it can support itself today without a philosophical or speculative system of principles attached to its political or practical system; We therefore note that each of the factions in which this nation is divided has formed a fabric of the first type to protect and conceal the plan of action it is pursuing. . A party [defender of the absolute and divine right of kings or Tories] in assigning the government to the divinity strives to make it so holy and inviolable that it must be little less than sacrilege, however tyrannical it may become to touch or ambush it in the smallest article. The other side [the Whigs or supporters of constitutional monarchy] assumes that there is some kind of original treaty by which subjects have tacitly reserved the power to oppose their ruler whenever they feel violated by the authority they have voluntarily entrusted to him for certain purposes. David Gauthier`s «neo-Hobbesian» theory holds that cooperation between two independent and selfish parties is in fact possible, especially when it comes to understanding morality and politics. [19] Gauthier points in particular to the advantages of cooperation between two parties when it comes to challenging the prisoner`s dilemma. He suggests that if two parties respected the originally agreed agreement and morality set out in the contract, they would both achieve an optimal result. [19] [20] In his social contract model, factors such as trust, rationality and self-interest keep each party honest and prevent them from breaking the rules.

[19] [20] The traditional conceptions of the social contract of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau were decisively based on the idea of consent. For Locke, only the «consent of free men» could make them members of the government (Locke 1689, § 117). In the hands of these theorists – and in many ordinary discourses – the idea of «consent» implies a normative power to bind oneself. When one reaches the «age of consent», one is allowed to enter into certain types of binding agreements – contracts. By placing consent at the center of their treatises, these modern contract theorists (1) clearly assumed that individuals had basic normative powers over themselves (e.g. B self-ownership) before concluding the social contract (a point that Hume (1748) emphasized), and (2) highlighted the question of political obligation. If the parties have the power to bind themselves by exercising this normative power, then the result of the social contract was the obligation. As Hobbes (1651, 81 [chap. xiv.,¶7] pointed out, covenants bind; they are therefore «artificial chains» (1651, 138 [chap. xxi, ¶5]. In Plato`s best-known dialogue, the Republic, the theory of social contracts is presented again, although less favorably this time.

In Book II, Glaucon proposes a candidate for an answer to the question «What is justice?» by presenting a declaration of social contract for the essence of justice. What people want most is to be able to commit injustices against others without fear of reprisal, and what they most want to avoid is being treated unfairly by others without being able to do injustice in return. Justice, he says, is the conventional result of the laws and alliances people make to avoid these extremes. Unable to commit injustices with impunity (as those who wear the Ring of Gyges would do) and fearful of becoming victims themselves, the men decide that it is in their interest to submit to the Convention of Justice. Socrates rejects this view, and most of the rest of the dialogue focuses on showing that justice is worth to itself and that the righteous man is the happy man. Thus, from Socrates` point of view, justice has a value that far exceeds the regulatory value that Glaucon attaches to it. According to this argument, morality, politics, society and everything that goes with it, everything Hobbes calls a «trivialized life, is purely conventional.» Before the establishment of the basic social contract, according to which people agree to live together, and the contract to embody a sovereign with absolute authority, nothing is immoral or unjust – everything is allowed. However, once these contracts are concluded, the company becomes possible and it can be expected that people will keep their promises, cooperate with each other, etc. The social contract is the most fundamental source of all that is good and on which we depend to live well. We have the choice of sticking to the terms of the contract or returning to the state of nature, which Hobbes says could not benefit a reasonable person.

Ownership plays a vital role in Locke`s argument in favor of civil government and the contract that establishes it. According to Locke, private property is born when a person mixes his work with nature`s raw materials. .