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The Social Contract: Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Essay

The three philosophers, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were three key thinkers of political philosophy. The three men helped develop the social contract theory into what it is in this modern day and age. The social contract theory was the creation of Hobbes who created the idea of a social contract theory, which Locke and Rousseau built upon. Their ideas of the social contract were often influenced by the era in which they lived and social issues that were present during their lives.

Although all men sit in different positions on the theoretical political spectrum, which is derived from their work on the Social Contract Theory, they carry both similar and differential ideas (it can be argued where each man rests depending on who may be analyzing their work, but for the most part their position is clear). A key similarity between all three men is that they believe that there should be at least some sort of social contract of a supreme power such as a government in order to govern the rights of man. Of course it is obvious that the men are linked together by their ideas of a social contract because they have built upon each other.

What is significant about this similarity is that, although not all three men have similar views on how the government is formed, but they all have similar ideas on the underlying concept of why government should be formed and a social contract established. This is essentially to protect and preserve the rights of man in some way which somehow preserves mans existence. Hobbes feels that mans craving for power and natural state of war is controlled by the social contract, therefore maintaining mans existence. “ the final cause, or end design of men (who naturally love liberty, and dominion over others).

in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves (in which we see them live in commonwealths) is the foresight [prospect] of their own preservation and of more contented life thereby, that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable condition of war which is necessarily consequent (as has been shown) to the natural passions of men, when there is no visible power to keep them in awe and tie them by fear of punishment to the performance of their covenants and observation of those laws of nature…” (Levithian, Pt. 2 Ch. 17 s. 1) Locke, similarly feels that, he purpose of law is not to restrict the freedom of man but rather to preserve man and grant him liberty. “…

the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve.


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