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Social Contract

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Social contractualists such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all believed that the people of a state sign a "contract" with the government. The reasons for why they join into this contract however vary.

Thomas Hobbes believed that man by nature is a brute. He believed that they were wild like animals and at war with one another. Because of this, man joined into a social contract and formed a civil society out of fear in order to receive protection. He believes that people submit to the rule of government so that government can protect them from chaos.

John Locke however believes that man in the state of nature was not animalistic. He thought it to be peaceful. He did however believe that there was no way to divvy up property. There was no way to distinguish ownership amongst people and property rights were uncertain. Man needed to join into a contract with the government and form a civil society in order to secure property. He also believed that the government required the consent of those being governed.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that civil societies were formed to ensure that people have freedom. He believed that people lived as "noble savages". He felt that their desires were very minimal and basically based on basic need but once society was formed the people were corrupted because of the unnaturalness of civilization. He believed that although they were content in the state of nature they needed to interact so civilization was formed. He also felt that the general will should run a society. The general will being what is in the best interest of the entire society and not just the individual.



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