What isThomas Hobbes Social Contract Theory

Tue, 01/15/2013 - 04:52 -- Umar Farooq

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) was an Englishman. He lived at time when England was in the grip of civil war. There was complete confusion and anarchy. These conditions influenced the thinking of Thomas Hobbes and in this way he developed his theory of Social Contract.

What is Hobbes Social Contract Theory

According to Hobbes social contract theory, the ruler powers are absolute because these are inalienable and indivisible. Besides the laws of the sovereign are commands. The ruler is the sole judge of what is right and what is wrong. The people have only one right and this is to obey him.

Thomas Hobbes theory of social contract begins the state of nature. According to him it was pre-social. He explains the state of nature by analyzing human nature. According to him man by nature is selfish, egoistic and self-seeking. Whatever man does, it is only for the satisfaction of his desires. On many occasions man does not even hesitate in harming others for his own gains. So in the state of nature there was a competition. Man did not trust others. This distrust gave rise to hatred, which led to war. So in the state of nature there was a war of all against one and one against all.

As a result of this in the state of nature there was no distinguish between right or wrong, just or unjust, became the rule of life and also might was, right. Man's life in the state of nature was solitary, poor, nasty brutish and short.

Such state of affairs could not be borne by people for a very long time. They wanted peace, and for this purpose the people made a contract. How people have surrendered all their rights unconditionally to one man or to the assembly of men who became sovereign and the people became his subjects. The ruler is not party to the contract, which, therefore, is not binding on him. It is binding on the people because they are party to it.

Criticism on Hobbes Social Contract Theory


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