The sample essay on Social Contract Theory Def deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.


Social Contract Theory Def

Social contract theory


The social contract theory (SCT) is one of the ethical theories that explain the appropriate relationship between people and their government. This theory asserts that people should unite in a political society through processes of mutual consent, in accord to common rules and accept the corresponding roles.

This is vital because people will protect themselves and others against any violence or harm. On the other hand, SCT reveals people’s moral and political duties that are dependent upon an agreement formed in a society in which they live. It is associated with modern ethical and political theory. It has been one of the dominant theories within political and ethical theories throughout the modern Western history. Thus, this theory is vital because it consist a set of rules that facilitates social living.

A description of the social contract theory

The SCT states that individuals in the society are accorded specific rights of freedom. Therefore, the society enforces rights and duties that should be followed by members. The rights and obligations can be altered anytime because they are not natural or fixed. Thus, in order for this rights and responsibilities to be exercised well in the society, there must be the government to enforce laws in the society in order to avoid chaos and civil war in the society.

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla

Proficient in: Authority

5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Hence, the social contract theorists emphasizes that there should be a real agreement between members in the society regarding the rights and obligations of individuals in order for a society to function properly. This agreement should be directed towards advancing the common goals of the citizens and for this social contact to work well. Hence, every individual in the society should abide and agree to those agreements.

SCT was given its first full description and defense by one of the philosophers known as Thomas Hobbes. According to Hobbes’s views, the self-interests of individuals in the society and obligations are based on political authorities. These authorities are equally understood and there is no single person with an important authority to rule over the rest. Hobbes describes human nature in his theory that gives rise to morality and politics (Erckel 12). His theory is best understood in two diverse ways including human enthusiasm and social contract founded on theoretical state of nature. In his views, the human psychology reveals the subject of nature especially that of love and hate. Hobbes in the state of nature comments that human beings always fear to lose their life to other people. Thus, men are reasonable because they reorganize the laws of nature, which helps them to understand the state of nature thus creating a moral society.

Another famous social contract philosopher is John Locke. He tried to give a description of the ethical theory using the nature of state. He describes the state of nature, as completely unbearable thus rational men may be willing to submit themselves to absolute authority or escape from them completely. Thus, his argument concerning the social contract and the nature of people’s relationship to authorities are quite dissimilar (Erckel 17). In addition, he reveals that the natural state of humanity is whereby one needs perfect and complete freedom whereby no one should interfere with the freedom of others. However, this does not mean that one is licensed to do anything but it is a state where there is no civil authority or a state without morality. He describes this nature of state as a pre-political and pre-moral sate. In this case, it is assumed individuals are equal to one another and they are bounded by law of nature, which is given by God. The moral principle of this law requires nobody should cause harm to one another because we all belong to God.

The last philosopher of social contract theory is Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau is another famous philosopher who tried to advance the social contract theory. He describes the society as a small part, which is like a living organism that is vital to the well-being of the whole. Thus, people should guarantee their social contracts as valuable in order to contribute to the social well-being. He argues that in case one part of the society is abandoned, the other part will also feel its effects. In addition, he reveals that man is endowed with liberty and equality by nature. However, the nature of humanity has been corrupted by the conditional social history. Thus, people can conquer corruption through invoking their free will to reconstitute themselves politically by following democratic principles, which is good for them.

Reasons for choosing social contract theory

One of the reasons for choosing this theory is that it is a real theory, which is a process of negotiation characterized in every democratic society. The rationale of creating laws in our society is to create fairness, which is a just contract to all individuals in the society. What makes us believe strongly in democracy is that all citizens in the society have a voice in helping in formulate the laws. The reason for choosing this theory therefore is to reveal the underlying moral values desired in a particular democracy. Moreover, this theory is vital because it reveals the principles of equal freedom and fair opportunities that individuals need in a democratic state. However, some philosophers such as John Rawls, the modern American social contract theorists argue that inequalities will ultimately emerge even though everyone would be given equal opportunities. He concludes that the inequalities are tolerable as long as they are fair and everybody benefits from them.

Another reason of choosing SCT is to determine the ways in which the principle of social justice, which people should adopt in case their judgments is not based on self-interest. When treating individuals with dignity, it means treating them according to the values they fairly choose for themselves. The ultimate just principles comprise the social contract whereby justice in the modern institutions can be evaluated and to which direction of social change can be done (Erckel 19). However, the values of justice should be selected in order to minimize social violence in the society. Hence, individuals should adopt principles that should administer their social institutions. Thus, one can select the conditions in which the nature of justice, its framework and regulations can be established in order to make credible social contract.

Consequently, the ability to form the principles of just is one of the significant reasons for choosing the social contract theory. This theory enables one to establish a bargaining state whereby the result is a just social contract. This will be in consistent with the view of society and peace formed out of balancing powers. Moreover, the theory lends itself to independence, which is a fundamental unit for examining and evaluating a society where this theory applies. John Rawls, the modern American philosopher, argues that people need to discover the nature of justice and its requirements for people and social institutions where people live cooperatively. People are assumed as being rational and not interested in the well-being of others. This is a situation where Rawls argues that an individual is required to choose the principles that favor his or her own specific situations.

Nevertheless, I believe in the independence, self-esteem and the freedom of the individual and these accounts for the selection of this theory. Justice can be maintained in a society in case people are given freedom and if they are self-directed. Thus, a situation where people commit themselves to the basic principles in which they live will particularly express a just process. In case the bargaining situation warrants fairness, then I consider the principles that free individuals thus maintaining justice. However, people cannot maintain justice when they are left to do so. Hence, they should be governed by certain principles that should guide them towards maintaining justice in the society.

According to Thomas Hobbes, it is clear that the laws of nature are different from the right of nature. In his argument about the state of nature, Hobbes argues that the contracts originating from the law of nature, which entails self-interest and self-protection, becomes invalid unless there is a common power for monitoring obedience of the contracts that may lead to creating injustice. He further clarifies that the only way for selecting such a common power is through defending the assault of foreigners and injuries for one another (Erckel 21). In addition, Hobbes argues that contractual rights and obligations flow from this agreement and the autonomy cannot do wrong to their subjects. This implies that a society, which is independent and has certain rule that governs it, is likely to maintain a just environment. This is because these doctrines are beneficial in maintaining peace in the society.

Moreover, SCT is one of the theories, which consists a set of rules that facilitates social living. A society, which is governed by the government with specific rules set to govern individuals, is likely to maintain peace. This is because those living under the government are parties to social contact. Therefore, everyone agrees to abide to the principles of a certain state and in that way, people are safe and benefit from other social benefits that may result. According to this theory, the state exists to implement the significant laws for social living and morality exists in order to facilitate the social living. Therefore, the government must enforce necessary rules vital for social living such as not robbing people’s properties, not breaking the agreements and not causing harm to one another.

Hobbies advocates that our action are selfishly motivated thus he developed a social contract theory of ethical egoism (Erckel 27). People live happily in a state where rules on morality exist contrary to one where they are absent leading to recurring conflicts in such a state. He argues that in case people do not have moral values of principles governing them, then they are subjected to the whims of other people’s selfish interests. Therefore, the properties of people, families and their lives will be at risk in case moral values lack in a society. Thus, state laws are essential because they will prohibit individuals from lying, robbing and committing murder. Formulating way of enforcing these laws means creating a policing agency whereby those who violates the laws are punished.

Lastly, this theory is significant because it is where all powers and jurisdiction are reciprocal in a state. The state, which through the law teaches all humanity about the morality, can bind people. What constitutes a serious theory is derived from the law of nature that unconditionally unites people in every society. Thus, it can be that argued humankind moves out of state of nature by a voluntary choice of contract or sanction of association. Thus, understanding our responsibilities and utilizing our freedom will contribute to a society, which is peaceful. This will help individuals to avoid minor punishments as well as conflicts in the society.

In conclusion, social contract theory is vital because it consist a set of rules that facilitates social living. The SCT states that individuals in the society are accorded specific rights of freedom. Many philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke greatly contributed to this theory. They both explain about the nature of the state and the kind of values required in the society. In this regard, this theory is a real theory, which is a process of negotiation characterized in every democratic society. It determines the ways in which the principle of social justice, which people should adopt whereby their judgments is not based on self-interest. Consequently, the ability to form the principles of just is one of the significant reasons for choosing the social contract theory. Moreover, SCT is one of the theories, which consists a set of rules that facilitates social living.

Work cited

Erckel, Sebastian. Classical Social Contract Theory: The Classical Social Contract Theories of

Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Compared. Mu?nchen: GRIN Verlag GmbH, 2009. Internet resource.

Cite this page

Social Contract Theory Def. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Social Contract Theory Def
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7