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The Social Contract Theory Essay

The Social Contract Theory as propounded by Hobbes is based on the ratiocination that if left entirely free, human beings will act against their own self interest in the long term unless they are subjected to an authority figure which monitors their interests for peaceful co-existence on the whole. The scenario which constitutes freedom employs the concept of State of Nature while the provision that envisages an authority figure forms the basis of Social Contract.

Under State of Nature, a man’s own self interest when followed without consideration for others under the pretext of competition, survival and vainglory results in a sort of cataclysmic man against man scenario. In such a scenario, man starts giving reins to his baser instincts of survival without consideration for others. To avoid this, individuals need to cede their rights to a sovereign authority, in a Social Contract, that protects their interests without infringing on another’s interests.

For this, it is imperative that the ruling authority be above petty prejudices and biases to bind each individual who would otherwise on their own be competitors and not always agree with their different notions of justice and fairness. The direction of actions of individuals to a peaceful co-existence requires a set of rules that forms the basis of morality which is meaningless under State of Nature, where personal interests without regard for others is the only rule at play.

The covenant of Social Contract thus enforces a positive transformation of men from chaotic self serving entities to individuals enjoying order and peace in an organized society. Pleasing all being an impossible proposition, any misgivings against the authority in a Social Contract resulting due to abuse of power have to be borne as a price for peace over the chaos in State of Nature. It must be mentioned however that the individuals still retain the right to protest and demand explanations in case of excesses by the sovereign authority. References Hampton, Jean (1988). Hobbes and Social Contract Tradition. Cambridge University Press.


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