What Is a Social Contract Theory Example

Given the long-standing and widespread influence that the theory of social contracts has had, it is not surprising that it is also the subject of much criticism from various philosophical perspectives. Feminists and race-conscious philosophers in particular have advanced important arguments about the substance and feasibility of social contract theory. As an example of social contract theory in practice, ask yourself if William accuses Adam of stealing $1,000 from him. Adam denies having done so. Under a natural rule of law, men could settle the matter through a fight – or perhaps William broke into Adam`s house and tried to get the money back. Once a social contract has been concluded through the formation of a cohesive society governed by law, men must trust the legal system. Rousseau`s political theory differs from that of Locke and Hobbes in important respects. Rousseau`s collectivism is most evident in his development of the “luminous conception” (which he attributes to Denis Diderot) of the general will. Rousseau argues that a citizen cannot pursue his true interest by being selfish, but rather must submit to the law created by citizens acting as a collective. After Rawls argued that any rational person who holds the original position and stands behind the veil of ignorance can discover both principles of justice, Rawls constructed perhaps the most abstract version of a theory of the social contract. It is very abstract, because instead of showing that we would have signed or even signed a contract to found the company, it rather shows us what we must be willing to accept as rational people in order to be constrained by justice and therefore to be able to live in a well-ordered society. The principles of justice are more fundamental than the social contract as it has traditionally been conceived.

On the contrary, the principles of justice limit this contract and set the limits of how we can build society in the first place. For example, if we view a constitution as a concrete expression of the social contract, Rawls` two principles of justice describe what such a constitution can and cannot require of us. Rawls` theory of justice thus represents the Kantian limits of the political and social forms of organization that are permissible in a just society. In Plato`s best-known dialogue, the Republic, the theory of social contracts is presented again, although less favorably this time. In Book II, Glaucon proposes a candidate for an answer to the question “What is justice?” by presenting a declaration of social contract for the essence of justice. What people want most is to be able to commit injustices against others without fear of reprisal, and what they most want to avoid is being treated unfairly by others without being able to do injustice in return. Justice, he says, is the conventional result of the laws and alliances people make to avoid these extremes. Unable to commit injustices with impunity (as those who wear the Ring of Gyges would do) and fearful of becoming victims themselves, the men decide that it is in their interest to submit to the Convention of Justice.

Socrates rejects this view, and most of the rest of the dialogue focuses on showing that justice is worth to itself and that the righteous man is the happy man. Thus, from Socrates` point of view, justice has a value that far exceeds the regulatory value that Glaucon attaches to it. According to this argument, morality, politics, society and everything that goes with it, everything Hobbes calls a “trivialized life, is purely conventional.” Before the establishment of the basic social contract, according to which people agree to live together, and the contract to embody a sovereign with absolute authority, nothing is immoral or unjust – everything is allowed. However, once these contracts are concluded, the company becomes possible and it can be expected that people will keep their promises, cooperate with each other, etc. The social contract is the most fundamental source of all that is good and on which we depend to live well. We have the choice of sticking to the terms of the contract or returning to the state of nature, which Hobbes says could not benefit a reasonable person. The central assertion that social contract theory is approaching is that law and political order are not natural, but human creations. The social contract and the political order it creates are only the means to an end – the benefit of the individuals involved – and are legitimate only to the extent that they fulfill their part of the agreement. Hobbes argued that the government is not a party to the original treaty and that citizens are not obliged to submit to the government if it is too weak to act effectively to suppress factionism and civil unrest. According to other social contract theorists, if the government does not guarantee their natural rights (locke) or satisfy the best interests of society (called “general will” by Rousseau), citizens can withdraw their duty of obedience or change direction through elections or other means, including, if necessary, violence. Locke believed that natural rights were inalienable and that, therefore, God`s rule replaced governmental authority, while Rousseau believed that democracy (self-government) was the best way to ensure prosperity while maintaining individual freedom under the rule of law. Locke`s concept of social contract was cited in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Social contract theories were eclipsed in favor of utilitarianism, Hegelianism, and Marxism in the 19th century; they were revived in the 20th century, especially in the form of a thought experiment by John Rawls. [5] In the United States, the people have elected representatives for the leadership of the government, which consists of three different branches, each keeping the others at bay. Every member of society has given up their right to take matters into their own hands, in the hope that everyone will do the same. One of the advantages, in this example of social contract theory, is that no one is free to take revenge on people they think have wronged them. According to the theory of the will of the contract, a contract is not considered valid unless all parties voluntarily, tacitly or expressly accept it without coercion. Lysander Spooner, a 19th-century lawyer and fervent defender of contract law between individuals, argued in his essay No Treason that a so-called social contract cannot be used to justify state measures such as taxation because the government will incite violence against anyone who does not want to enter into such a contract. Consequently, it submits that such an agreement is not voluntary and therefore cannot be regarded as a legitimate contract at all. Patriarchal control of women is found in at least three paradigmatic contemporary contracts: the marriage contract, the prostitution contract and the surrogacy contract. Each of these contracts relates to men`s control over women or a particular man`s control over a particular woman in general.

Under the terms of the marriage contract, a husband is granted the right of sexual access in most states of the United States, which prohibits the legal category of marital rape. Prostitution is an example of Pateman`s claim that modern patriarchy requires equal access for men to women, especially sexual access and access to their bodies. And surrogacy can be understood as more of the same, albeit in terms of women`s access to reproductive abilities. All these examples show that the treaty is the means by which women are dominated and controlled. The Treaty is not the way to freedom and equality. Rather, it is a means, perhaps the most fundamental, by which patriarchy is maintained. For Hobbes, the solution is a social contract in which society reaches a collective understanding – a social contract – that it is in everyone`s interest to apply rules that ensure the safety of all, including the most vulnerable. Thus, the social contract can liberate society from a state of nature into a prosperous society in which even the weak can survive. The extent to which society protects the weak may vary; In our company, however, we accept the contract and need the contract to ensure the safety of all. The social contract begins with Rousseau`s most frequently quoted phrase: “Man is born free, and he is everywhere chained” (49). This claim is the conceptual bridge between the descriptive work of the Second Discourse and the prescriptive work that will come. Humans are essentially free and were free in the state of nature, but the “progress” of civilization has replaced this freedom with dependence, economic and social inequality, and the extent to which we judge ourselves with comparisons with others.

Since a return to the state of nature is neither feasible nor desirable, the purpose of politics is to give us back freedom and thus reconcile who we really are and essentially with the way we live together. So this is the fundamental philosophical problem that the social contract seeks to solve: how can we be free and live together? In other words, how can we live together without succumbing to the power and coercion of others? We can do this, Rousseau said, by subjecting our individual, special will to the collective or general will created by agreement with other free and equal people. .