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Social Contract Theories

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Summary slides regarding Social Contract Theory for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

Summary slides regarding Social Contract Theory for an undergraduate course in Political Thought that I taught between 2003-2005.

Published in: Education, News & Politics

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  • 1. On the Social Contract Theories On the Social Contract Theories
  • 2. Points to Ponder
    • Review
    • Foundations of the state
    • Relationship between citizens and state
    • Context of liberty
    • Powers of the state
  • 3. Human Nature: A Continuum Pessimistic Optimistic HOBBES LOCKE ROUSSEAU Man is “evil”, a wolf unto his fellow man. Man possesses perfect liberty. “ Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains”
  • 4. Summary State guided by the general will. No security or morality. Man is free but ‘immoral’. Rousseau Commonwealth Property is not secure. Man has perfect freedom. Locke Leviathan A state of War. Man is a wolf unto his fellow man. Hobbes Social Contract State of Nature Human Nature
  • 5. State Foundations
    • States are historical institutions
    • However, more fundamentally their moorings are philosophical
      • How states are organized and function depend on our view of human nature
      • Thus questions of governance and law are not just questions of expediency
      • “Is it proper to man?”
  • 6. Citizen-State Relations
    • The state exists for man, and not man for the state
      • A state is a human instrument for the achievement of common interests
      • States do not rob us of our individuality or liberty
      • However, membership in a state comes with obligations to our fellow man
  • 7. Liberty
    • Freedom is not absolute
      • Within a state, freedoms are circumscribed by laws
      • It is necessary to place constraints on freedom for the sake of citizens as well as for the sake of the state
      • We surrender certain freedoms to attain more freedoms
  • 8. State Power
    • The most important power of the state is legislative power
    • Laws depend as much on context as much as content
    • States must also possess enough autonomy to implement their laws
    • State power is also not absolute (unless you agree with Hobbes)

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