Social Contract Theory Essay

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James 1, King of England (1603 –25), in his True Law of Free Monarchies admits that the king ought to behave honorably but that if he did not and broke his side of their contract that did not release his subjects from obedience.

The enlightenment, the period from the mid seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, saw a move away from theological or religious based thinking to inquiry founded on scientific reasoning .

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To develop their theories of government they started with man in his original condition, or “the state of nature”.

Where they differed was in their assumptions about the nature of ungoverned human interaction and behaviour. Starting from their very different assumptions as to the “state of nature” they came to different conclusions and provided different prescriptions for the government of society.

Prior to the civil war in England government was theocratic.

This saw kings as divinely appointed and their subjects as divinely commanded to obey them.

The social contract obliges citizens to respect and obey the state, in exchange for stability and security that only a system of political rule can provide.

The social contract theories of Hobbes and Locke start from the concept of man in a primitive state without political authority or formal checks on the behaviour of individuals.


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