Why should the state exist, and how much power should it have? The social contract may provide the answer. Although similar ideas can be traced back to the Greek Sophists, social-contract theories had their greatest currency in the 17th and 18th centuries and are associated with such names as the Englishmen Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and the Frenchman Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The natural law concept existed long before Locke as a way of expressing the idea that there were certain moral truths that applied to all people, regardless of the particular place where they lived or the agreements they had made. The most important early contrast was between laws that were by nature, and thus generally applicable, and those that were conventional and operated only in those places where the particular convention had been established.
This distinction is sometimes formulated as the difference between natural law and positive law. Natural law is also distinct from divine law in that the latter, in the Christian tradition, normally referred to those laws that God had directly revealed through prophets and other inspired writers.
Thus some seventeenth-century commentators, Locke included, held that not all of the 10 commandments, much less the rest of the Old Testament law, were binding on all people.
Thus there is no problem for Locke if the Bible commands a moral code that is stricter than the one that can be derived from natural law, but there is a real problem if the Bible teaches what is contrary to natural law. In practice, Locke avoided this problem because consistency with natural law was one of the criteria he used when deciding the proper interpretation of Biblical passages.
In the century before Locke, the language of natural rights also gained prominence through the writings of such thinkers as Grotius, Hobbes, and Pufendorf.
Whereas natural law emphasized duties, natural rights normally emphasized privileges or claims to which an individual was entitled.
They point out that Locke defended a hedonist theory of human motivation Essay 2. Locke, they claim, recognizes natural law obligations only in those situations where our own preservation is not in conflict, further emphasizing that our right to preserve ourselves trumps any duties we may have.
On the other end of the spectrum, more scholars have adopted the view of Dunn, Tully, and Ashcraft that it is natural law, not natural rights, that is primary. They hold that when Locke emphasized the right to life, liberty, and property he was primarily making a point about the duties we have toward other people: Most scholars also argue that Locke recognized a general duty to assist with the preservation of mankind, including a duty of charity to those who have no other way to procure their subsistence Two Treatises 1.
These scholars regard duties as primary in Locke because rights exist to ensure that we are able to fulfill our duties. Simmons takes a position similar to the latter group, but claims that rights are not just the flip side of duties in Locke, nor merely a means to performing our duties.
While these choices cannot violate natural law, they are not a mere means to fulfilling natural law either. Brian Tienrey questions whether one needs to prioritize natural law or natural right since both typically function as corollaries.
He argues that modern natural rights theories are a development from medieval conceptions of natural law that included permissions to act or not act in certain ways. There have been some attempts to find a compromise between these positions.
Adam Seagrave has gone a step further. God created human beings who are capable of having property rights with respect to one another on the basis of owning their labor. Another point of contestation has to do with the extent to which Locke thought natural law could, in fact, be known by reason.
In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke defends a theory of moral knowledge that negates the possibility of innate ideas Essay Book 1 and claims that morality is capable of demonstration in the same way that Mathematics is Essay 3.Hobbes’s theory has far more in common with fascism, than it does with Locke’s theory.
To say that they were both social contract theorists is like saying that Adam Smith believed in the labor theory of value and Karl Marx believed in the labor theory of value, therefor Smith was .
Jul 28, · Although the concept of the social contract is recognizable in the works of some of the ancient Greek philosophers, and Rousseau was the first to coin the term “social contract”, Thomas Hobbes is widely recognized to be the founder of social contract theory in western philosophy.
John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were known as social contract theorists as well as natural law theorists.
However, they are both completely different in terms of their stand and conclusions in several laws of nature. Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher from Malmesbury. He .
Hobbes theory of Social Contract supports absolute sovereign without giving any value to individuals, while Locke and Rousseau supports individual than the state or the government. 4. To Hobbes, the sovereign and the government are identical but Rousseau makes a distinction between the two.
Social Contract Theory. Social contract theory, nearly as old as philosophy itself, is the view that persons' moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. This paper provides a small summary of Social Contract Theory by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau.
It discusses what is the social contract theory and the reason.
Hobbes’s theory has far more in common with fascism, than it does with Locke’s theory. To say that they were both social contract theorists is like saying that Adam Smith believed in the labor theory of value and Karl Marx believed in the labor theory of value, therefor Smith was a Marxist or Marx was a Smithian. While Hobbes believed in social contract theory (that is, the theory that a ruler has an unspoken, implicit contract with his people requiring him to reign fairly), he ascribed nearly total power. This paper provides a small summary of Social Contract Theory by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. It discusses what is the social contract theory and the reason. Then the paper points out the State of.
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