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Locke vs Rousseau Essay

John Locke argued that a legitimate government would be validated through the consent of the people it governed and protected, specifically the protection of a citizens natural rights of life, liberty, and estate. He also believed that citizens had the right of rebellion in the event that a government was acting against the rights and interests of its citizens, ultimately allowing those governed to replace the government with another in the interests of the people. Locke believed that the state of nature was that of happiness due to reason and tolerance. He argued that all people are equal and had no right to harm another’s “life, liberty, or possessions.” The state was formed by social contract because in the state of nature each was his own judge.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s beliefs influenced the creation of the socialist theory, which stressed the notion of government control. Concerning the state of nature, Rousseau argued that human nature ultimately settles in to a “brutish condition without law or morality”. He believed that the human race adopted governing institutions and institutions of law to simply avoid perishing, arguing that in man is prone to competition in his natural state.

By joining together in a social contract, individuals have the opportunity to preserve themselves and remain free. In terms of their views on the state of human nature, Locke clearly believes that humans are naturally content with one another due to tolerance of fellow man. Rousseau believed that the natural state of man was far more aggressive, and the social contract of man existed merely for survival.


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