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Social Contract Theory of John Locke - Essay Example

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It establishes that justice is a product of general agreement, a contract agreed to by each and every member of the society. The term social contract applies to contract between members of the…
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Social Contract Theory of John Locke
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Social Contract Theory of John Locke

Download file to see previous pages... It works in a way so that no one can deny that a rule is unjust because the rules are made when all members of the society agree to them.
John Locke, one of the greatest eighteenth century theorists, also put forward the idea of natural rights and property, which formed the basis for his social contract theory. However, this is opposed to the central idea of egalitarianism – all people have an equal right and claim on the resources of the society. The social contract theory negates this concept and relies solely on individual rights rather than communal rights. Also, some perceive this negatively and argue that Locke’s studies tend to be more conservative in nature compared to other theorists of the social contract theory and included only the males and the educated and propertied class of the society (Cohen, 1986).
Pollock (2006) explains that the Lockean ‘contract’ is one where individuals give up the freedom to aggress against others in return for their own safety. The government or any law-enforcing authority rests upon the principles of quid pro quo which means that we give the government the power to protect us, in full recognition of the fact that this power may be used against us. However, this ‘contract’ with the government comes with a set of principles. Locke rejects the notion of an unconditional duty of obedience: ‘For him the legitimacy of political authority depends upon the end for which it was instituted, namely, the preservation of the natural rights to life, liberty, and estate. If these rights are infringed, the trust between the community and the magistrate (government) is canceled, and the people have a right to appeal to heaven (revolution) to establish a new legislative body.’ (Gray, 1999). Therefore, Lockean version of the social contract theory allows the members of the society to initiate a revolution if the social contract’s ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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