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ID number:334299
Published: 10.06.2005.
Language: English
Level: College/University
Literature: 17 units
References: Used

Discuss the concept of the social contract in Locke, Hobbes and Kant. In what ways do the three authors lay the foundation for representative government?

The concept of social contract itself is almost as old as social theories themselves. According to Plato “a contract was the basis of relations between the Ruler and the common people in politics1”. At he beginning of the early modern political thought the foundation of social contract was to develop the theory of state in general.
Morality and laws come from social contract, which is an agreement that people make. The social contract has the rules and morality derive from the free, unanimous, informed consent of the people2.
However, for Hobbes, Locke, and Kant, social contract was not simply an agreement within the structure of already existing order2 but also it was the basis of authority of civil community in general.
As Hobbes, Locke, and Kant imposed - social contract - it was a device to help them answer these questions: what political arrangements are morally justified? Or what, if any, natural rights do people have that limit the power of the state? Even though all three thinkers had similar ideas of what social contract is, when it comes to more details about each thinkers viewpoint on social contract, their opinions slightly differ. Kant regards social contract theory as a moral ideal that is underlying a successful civil society, for Hobbes, the social contract is a simultaneous agreement by all persons except the new sovereign to abandon full use of their powers and hence “to permit the thus-created sovereign to make full use of his power without being hindered by his subjects” and for Locke the social contract theory brings together citizens so that they can “delegate enforcement of the natural law to a trustee” for the sake of convenience. …

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