Example Of A Social Agreement

The theory of the social contract also appears in Crito, another dialogue of Plato. Over time, the theory of the social contract became more and more widespread, after Epicurus (341-270 BC), the first philosopher, who regarded justice as a social contract and which did not exist in nature because of divine intervention (see below and also epicurean ethics), decided to place theory at the top of his society. Over time, philosophers of traditional political and social thought, such as Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau, gave their opinion towards the social contract, which took much more account of the subject. [Citation required] Another example of Social Contract Theory could occur when two men wake up in the forest. Nether knows where he is or how he got here. Although they do not have provisions, both men have weapons and a healthy distrust of each other. As men walk around looking for edible plants and berries, everyone looks behind him because he fears that the other will steal what he has found or hurts him. Not only are men distracted, but it is also difficult to collect food that carries a weapon. But if both men agree to lay down their weapons at the same time, they can do their job without fear.

To add another dimension to the contract that the men have just concluded, they might agree to look together for what they need and share the same parts. There is a general form of theories of the social contract which is this: the most fundamental alliance, the social pact, is the agreement to bring together and form a people, a community that, by definition, is larger and which differs from a simple aggregation of individual interests and wills. This act, in which individuals become people, is “the true foundation of society.” By collectively renouncing the individual rights and freedoms that one has in the state of nature and by transferring these rights to the collective body, one forms, as it were, a new “person”. The sovereign is therefore formed when free and equal people come together and agree to recreate themselves as a single organ, which boils down to the common interest of all. Just as the individual will is directed towards individual interests, once formed, the general will is oriented towards the common good, understood and collectively agreed. In this version of the social contract there is the idea of replicated duties: the sovereign is attached to the well-being of the individuals who constitute him and each individual is also attached to the good of the whole. In this context, it is not possible to give the individual the freedom to decide whether it is in his own interest to discharge his duties to the sovereign while being allowed to reap the benefits of citizenship. They must be brought to adapt to the general will, they must be “forced to be free” (64). Since Locke did not imagine the state of nature as ferocious as Hobbes, he could imagine conditions under which it would be better to refuse a particular civil government and return to the state of nature, in order to establish a better civilian government in its place. It is therefore both the vision of human nature and the very nature of morality that constitute the differences between Hobbes` and Locke on the social contract. Whereas under the laws of nature, it is affirmed that man had an absolute right to protect himself, and to punish those who do not respect these laws.

Once a social contract has been concluded, each, by the organization under government authority, transfers to that government its power to protect itself and personally punish those who do harm. Given the long-standing and widespread influence of the theory of the social contract, it is not surprising that it is also the subject of much criticism in many philosophical points of view.