Social Contract Theorists Term Paper

Total Length: 1252 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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Locke and Rousseau's social contract theories and compares both in the light of their arguments on human nature having an influence on political right. It has 2 sources.

The development of political systems and laws directly depends on the beliefs of the people who endeavor to create a suitable system. The inclusion of beliefs in natural law and natural rights is something that people might choose to carry out or avoid. The belief in these rights and their application to social justice has come down to contemporary man through individuals such as John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Though the origin of their ideas vary considerably, they both end up creating a system for political structuring that is practical and aims at aiding all members of society. It is thanks to their beliefs in natural rights and natural law that the contemporary world has succeeded to a certain extent in making life for members of society better. This is in contrast to the past oppressive governance in which monarchs dealt with their people cruelly. Both these theorists succeeded in creating a structure that opposed the slavery and political dominance. The surrendering of individual freedom that was demanded of people in the past could not in any reasonable way be balanced with anything. As a result of this, people who allowed monarchs to govern them lived as slaves.


John Locke developed the belief in natural rights, as these are the rights that every human being is born with. He asserts that according to an individual's birth right, s/he has the right everything thing that all others are entitled to. There is no way that one human being can be born having less or more right than another.

Each human being is born with all abilities that others are born with, and hence, all individuals have the capability of expressing themselves in anyway they choose.
This includes being kind and cruel. Since, individuals may be kind it is a characteristic that would benefit society; as such an individual would be able to help others graciously. However, since an individual also possesses the ability to be cruel this is something that is undesirable and can be destructive to society (Locke, 1690).

In contrast to Locke's theory, Rousseau suggests that human beings are born with natural rights, but they are also born with the ability of being naturally good. This is a major point of conflict between Rousseau and Locke. However, Rousseau does assert that this natural goodness in individuals has been deformed because of social influences through time. It is because of this warped human nature that society has gotten itself into further trouble, in which political attitudes have been formed through a system of political rights. It is these political rights that are used to justify the actions of people who believe to be superior over others (Rousseau, 1762).

Locke does not consider what Rousseau says about human nature being necessarily good but then warped leading to ill political rights. Locke possesses a very straight forward concept of human nature and human rights. He believes that through human nature and judgment of good and bad can individuals know what is right and wrong. It is up to individuals to choose the best means to live with fellow man. Hence, in order to structure a system that is politically right, human beings have to exercise their instinctive knowledge of what is right or wrong for fellow man (Locke, 1690).

John Locke held that political rights should be centered on the interest of the individual instead of the whole society. This is because there was risk that smaller but more important opinions might be left out. Hence, the voice of the individual became increasingly important to freedom….....

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