The first humans on earth were primative clans that stuck together. As time developed so did the mind of the human. As the minds of humans started to expand, society developed and so did its many other aspects. One of those aspects is the social contract. A social contract are theories that try to explain the ways in which people form states and/or maintain social order. The notion of the social contract implies that the people give up some rights to a government or other authority in order to receive or maintain social order through the rule of law.
It can also be thought of as an agreement by the governed on a set of rules by which they are governed. Two theorists that had very strong views on the social contract were Thomas Hobbes and Immanuel Kant. Although both of these theorists believed in a social contract they both had different views on what it exactly meant. Hobbes was a different kind of philosopher that had a very pessimistic view on humanity. In Hobbes’ book the Leviathan, he believed that humans were naturally nasty creatures and needed to be regulated in a society.
For Hobbes one thing he also believed in was Utilitarianism, which is the desire for pleasure that drives our actions, basically, the most useful choice for your benefit. Hobbes had a theory that was called “the state of nature”, which in the eyes of Hobbes was life for humans before any kind of laws or governments. He says that the state of nature is a violent place with no lows. In the state of nature there is no business, no account of time, buildings, and there is always danger around the corner.
For Hobbes the “state of nature” was a savage place that could only be fixed by laws, there is only peace when there is no war and no war is a place with laws. Hobbes came to the conclusion that humans cant live in groups without law. Hobbes was Lopez 2 someone who thought that too much liberty was a bad thing for humans. Hobbes would say that the “state of nature” is because too much liberty. This is why Hobbes believed in the social contract, a sovereign must be established to regulate on the population.
In Hobbes version of the social contract there must be a commonwealth or common state in which all citizens can feel safe. Citizens must feel safe in the common wealth in order for success and it’s the responsibility of the sovereign to make sure it is successful. Yet another important variable of the social contract is the consent of the mass. You must have “consent” from the governed in order to have a commonwealth. Hobbes does not believe in free will so when he says, “consent” what he really believes is that the commonwealth will happen regardless of the individuals consent or not.
But with giving consent the governed must realize that they are giving up certain liberties and freedoms. One of them being that they can not question the authority of the sovereign to rule, cant kill the sovereign, and/or protest his will. The liberty of the commonwealth is altered because they must now live a certain way in order to live in it. The liberty of the governed is limited to the sovereigns view of liberty. Hobbes also believed that humans had reason. In order for this to happen humans need reason. Reason separates humans from reasonless animals.
Humans have reputation, humans know private and public boundries, they can persuade and lie, and use that reason to make them a better liar. Once there is a commonwealth man is turned artificial. Kant’s version of the social contract is a bit different from that of Hobbes. For Kant the sovereign must recognize the “original contract” as an idea of reason that forces Lopez 3 the sovereign to give his laws in such a way that they could have arisen from the united will of a whole people and to regard each subject, insofar as he wants to be a citizen, as if he has joined in voting for such a will.
This original contract, Kant stresses, is only an idea of reason and not a historical event. Any rights and duties stemming from an original contract do so not because of any particular historical provenance, but because of the rightful relations embodied in the original contract. No empirical act, as a historical act would be, could be the foundation of any rightful duties or rights. The idea of an original contract limits the sovereign as legislator. The consent at issue, however, is also not an empirical consent based upon any actual act.
The set of actual particular desires of citizens is not the basis of determining whether they could possibly consent to a law. Rather, the kind of possibility at issue is one of rational possible unanimity based upon fair distributions of burdens and rights in abstraction from empirical facts or desires. Kant also believed in cosmopolitan right or ideal. Kant’s particular discussion of cosmopolitan right is restricted to the right of hospitality.
Since all peoples share a limited amount of living space due to the spherical shape of the earth, the totality of which they must be understood to have originally shared in common, they must be understood to have a right to possible interaction with one another. This cosmopolitan right is limited to a right to offer to engage in commerce, not a right to demand actual commerce. A citizen of one state may try to establish links with other peoples; no state is allowed to deny foreign citizens a right to travel in its land.
Settlement is another matter entirely. Kant is strongly critical of the European colonization of other lands already Lopez 4 inhabited by other peoples. Settlement in these cases is allowed only by uncoerced informed contract. Even land that appears empty might be used by shepherds or hunters and cannot be appropriated without their consent Cosmopolitan ideal is an important component of perpetual peace. Interaction among the peoples of the world, Kant notes, has increased in recent times.
Violations of cosmopolitan right would make more difficult the trust and cooperation necessary for perpetual peace among states. The categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept in the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Introduced in Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, it may be defined as the standard of rationality from which all moral requirements derive. According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in one ultimate commandment of reason, or imperative, from which all duties and obligations derive.
He defined an imperative as any proposition that declares a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary. Kant’s is similar to the social contract theory of Hobbes in a few important characteristics. The social contract is not a historical document and does not involve a historical act. In fact it can be dangerous to the stability of the state to even search history for such empirical justification of state power. The current state must be understood, regardless of its origin, to embody the social contact.
The social contract is a rational justification for state power, not a result of actual deal-making among individuals or between them and a government. Another link to Hobbes is that the social contract is not voluntary. Individuals may be forced into the civil condition against their consent. Social contract is not based on any actual consent, one might say the voluntary choice to join a society. Since the social contract reflects reason, each human being as a rational being Lopez 5 already contains the basis for rational agreement to the state.
A substantial difference between Kant and Hobbes is that Hobbes bases his argument on the individual benefit for each party to the contract, whereas Kant bases his argument on Right itself, understood as freedom for all persons in general, not even just for the individual benefit that each party to the contract obtains in his or her own freedom. Hobbes and Kant had similarities and differences but for both the ultimate focus of the social contract was for a sovereign to rule over a society for the good of the commonwealth. Both theorist had different views on the aspects of the social contract.
Hobbes believed that too much liberty causes humans to be ruthless and unjust in the “state of nature”. And the only way to break from the “state of nature “ was to get a sovereign to rule and regulate. While, Kant believed in rights themselves and the cosmopolitan ideal. Both of these theorist were respected in their day along with their theories. The social contract is still a concept that exists today and could even be applied to our own country but the bottom line is that there will always have to be a social contract between state and population weather anyone likes it or not.
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