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Strengths and Weaknesses of Social Contract Theory - Coursework Example

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The paper "Strengths and Weaknesses of Social Contract Theory" aims to show that the social contract theory is one which attempts to bring order to the society through the recognition of the rights and duties of individuals and states towards each other…
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Strengths and Weaknesses of Social Contract Theory
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Download file to see previous pages One of the greatest strengths of the social contract theory is that it acknowledges the need for consent from the population before a government can attain legitimacy. Consent, in this case, might be considered synonymous with democracy because consent can, in most circumstances, only be achieved through the active participation of the population. Most democratic states in the world today have developed constitutions that require elections to be carried out regularly so that governments of their choice can be selected. Therefore, following Locke’s argument, one would suggest that consent is recognition of the symbiotic relationship that exists between a state and those people subjected to it (Strauss, 1958). This relationship is normally contractual in nature because each of them needs the other in order to survive and this means that they have to fulfill their obligations before there can be order in society. The social contract recognizes that once a society establishes control over a territory, it becomes a state and the latter is essential in ensuring that this control is maintained because, without state control, the society would most likely be in danger. The consent of the people who it governs is necessary for both the legitimacy as well as the authority that the state needs to enforce its role within society (Dugger and Sherman, 1994). Consent is also a means through which individuals within a territory come to accept the laws that have been put in place to govern it, so that even though an individual might not have been born in the said territory, once he enters it, he consents to the laws that have been set up to govern the territory. This consent is essential in enforcing law and order in society because it helps in the recognition by the state that all individuals in the society and territory that it governs are equal.

The social contract is the means through which there are guarantees of the liberties and natural freedoms that are enjoyed by individuals. According to Hobbes (1651, p.4), all men have liberty, which means that they have the ability to do as they wish since it is their natural rights. Because liberty is given to members of society by nature, it is an inalienable right because it guarantees them the means through which they can be able to achieve their desires. The social contract means that the state should guarantee that all men have control over their own lives so that their natural rights are not violated. Furthermore, it is a means through which individuals can conduct their activities in a manner that they believe to be right according to their own conscience, in this way enabling them to live freely (Mina, 2005). All individuals in society are born equal in dignity and in rights and that they are free to do what they believe to be right and this is based on a belief that human liberty has its origins in nature and that no man has the right to deny others the right to choose what they want to do with their lives. Therefore, the state has a responsibility towards the people just it requires individuals in society to adhere to their responsibilities to it.

However, one of the weaknesses of the social contract theory is that there are instances where states do not seek the consent of their people before governing them (Riley, 2006). This is especially the case in situations where coups that do not have popular support take place and the new government declares its authority over the people and territory held by the state.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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