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Social Contract Theory The ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Contract Theory The ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution."— Presentation transcript:


2 Social Contract Theory The ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution

3 Journal Prompt n What would your life be like without government? –Consider services the government provides – freedoms government limits –your safety, health, happiness and property n Would you like to live without government? Why or why not?

4 Social Contract Theory is about 1. Why people theoretically choose to give up some of their power in order to form a government 2. The purpose of government

5 Who are the main social contract theorists? n Rousseau,Thomas Hobbes, & John Locke wrote about social contract theory in 1600s & 1700s.

6 John Lockes ideas are the foundation of the Declaration of Independence

7 The Second Treatise on Government by John Locke n Written page PERSUASIVE ESSAY. Why did he write it?

8 Purpose of Lockes Second Treatise on Government n To explain the role or purposes of govt n Justify resisting the power of the king n To protect property rights and increase Britains wealth. (Locke was a big land owner)

9 Social Contract theorists like John Locke based their ideas about government on a fictitious state of nature

10 What is this state of nature?

11 What does the state of nature mean? n What life is naturally like before people created governments n Do we really know what this is? No. It is what different philosophers imagine life would be like without government. n What do you think the state of nature, or life without government would be like?

12 According to Locke, in the state of nature everyone n Is equal n Has liberty n Follows natural laws of reason - –dont harm others LIFE/HEALTHor –LIBERTY or –PROPERTY POSSESSIONS –Everyone has to preserve himself and others n Has executive power- everybody has the right to punish others for breaking these natural laws

13 Natural laws of the state of nature: dont mess with someones n Life n Liberty n Property

14 The state of nature is dangerous! n If everybody has the right to punish people who break the natural laws then what is life like in the state of nature? Violent! Chaotic!

15 Heres how Thomas Hobbes described life in the state of nature, or life w/o government Life in the state of nature is essential a state of constant violence, a state of war. It is... short, nasty, and brutish

16 If everyone has executive power to punish then People who are selfish or revengeful or unfair will be extra lenient on their friends and hard on people they dislike when punishing people who break the natural laws

17 Trade State of Nature for Govt n State of nature can easily turn into a state of war, in which nobodys life, liberty or property is safe. So… n Give up some liberties to leave the state of nature and form a civil society, to form a GOVERNMENT. n You give the GOVERNMENT your executive power to punish people who mess with your life, liberty or property.

18 The purpose of government according to John Locke is to Protect peoples natural rights Life Liberty Property

19 Definition of Political Power n right of making laws and penalties for the regulating and preserving of property and of employing the force [power] of the community [to enforce those laws] and in the defense of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this for the public good. (Locke, 8)

20 Forming a government to protect yourself from the violence of the state of nature is called... A social contract

21 Right to revolution According to John Locke, people have a right to rebel or change the government when it no longer protects their LIFE, LIBERTY & PROPERTY. This what the Founding Fathers used as the reason for declaring independence from England.

22 Right to revolution… … governments are dissolved from within when they fail to protect, life, liberty and property: contrary to their trust… by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it [the power] devolves [goes back to]the people, who have a right to… provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society.

23 The [goal] of government is the good of mankind…. Which is best for mankind, A) that the people should be exposed to the boundless whim of tyranny? B) that the rulers should sometimes be opposed, then they grow exorbitant in their use of power and employ it for the destruction, and not the preservation of the properties of their people? …people have a right to … erect a new [form of government]… as they think good.

24 Should people revolt immediately or over little things? Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty, will be born by the people without mutiny or murmur. But, if a long train of abuses, prevarications [lies] and artifices… make the design visible to the people…. It is not to be wondered that they should then... endeavor to put the rule into such hands which may secure them the the ends for which government was at first erected.

25 Compare John Lockes ideas with the Declaration of Independence

26 Life Liberty Property Pursuit of Happiness Long train of abuses Natural Rights of men Dissolve government

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