Origins of the Social Contract 3 Originators of the social contract theory – John Locke, David Hume, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau Origin Each of us begins life under the terms of a special kind of social contract called a filial contract – Between a child and his parents, and by extension to his siblings. – This contract is established at the moment of bonding between parents and child following birth
Terms of the Contract The terms of the contract are that the child will provide the parents certain pleasures that come with parenthood – particularly the satisfaction of helping to form a happy and admirable adult – Support for the parents in their later years – In turn child receives their love, support, guidance, and protection during childhood.
John Lockes Law States… Locke states the existence of a "Natural Law" that transcends any man-made law. Simply put all citizens have a right to "life, liberty and property."
Furthermore Locke states that a legitimate government can only obtain its legitimacy from the consent of those whom it governs. Consent is necessary because for any government to exist individuals must voluntarily surrender some of the freedom they would possess if they existed in "a state of nature."
Theoretically this "consent of the governed" should mean that all citizens agree with the actions of the government at all times. Locke, as a pragmatic matter, realized that this is impossible in any society of size so he relied on the idea of a "general will" as expressed by the majority.
Locke's contract theories as well as his philosophy of tabula rasa attacked the then current powers of state established churches and monarchs who practiced absolutism.
Lockes ideas would be a leading influence on future writers; perhaps most notably Thomas Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence.
Locke imagined an original state of nature in which individuals rely upon their own strength, then described our escape from this primative state by entering into a social contract under which the state provides protective services to its citizens.
This contract involvyes colees the retaining of certain natural rights, an acceptance of restrictions of certain liberties, the assumption of certain duties, and the pooling of certain powers to be exercised collectively.
The social contract is very simple. It has only two basic terms: (1) mutual defense of rights; and (2) mutual decision by deliberative assembly.
In his treatment of the subject, Locke tended to emphasize those violations of the social contract that are so serious that the social contract is entirely broken and the parties enter a state of war in which anything is permitted, including killing the violator.
Today we would tend to place violations on a scale of seriousness, only the most extreme of which would permit killing.