Social Contract Would Observe the Law as Term Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Subject: Sociology
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #65503436

Excerpt from Term Paper :

social contract would observe the law as well as the institution to enforce that law. By the enforcement of that law, those covered could expect justice to be done to them and everybody else. In times of trouble, such as when burglars or other criminals attack, one could call the police for help. Those covered by the contract need neither to fear such unjust attacks nor to take the law into their own hands. The weak need not fear the strong.

The deal for those covered by the social contract is that they join individual forces and resources with others who also want peace and equality, so that their own goods may not be taken from them unjustly, either. And because there are more people who want their goods and other rights protected than those who want a free-for-all all the time, there would be more people who would join forces to effect peace and order than those who prefer chaos and bloodshed (Wikipedia 2001).

On the other hand, those who choose not to be covered by this social contract must be ready and able at all times from being defrauded, attacked or ignored of all rights and respect. They cannot expect the police or other social institutions to protect, help or promote their interests. They must fend for their entire welfare all on their own. This is what they can expect for not binding themselves to the contract and retaining all their resources just for themselves. They cannot build live anywhere or get anything without a price for it. That price is fixed by the institution that enforces the law, which, in turn, develops out of the social contract. They must educate themselves, produce their own stuff for their existence, fight their own enemies their way, and do anything for or against themselves without intrusion from those covered, as long as they do not infringe upon the law, which is observed by those covered.

2. Those who opt for the social contract unite under it and into a society for mutual protection and interest. Hobbes believes that they are driven only by selfish reasons, which he justifies, but argues that one would be subject to the whims of others if he did not agree to moral rules. He points directly to selfishness as the underlying motive to choose to be covered by it. He also sees that selfish motivation in devising the means to enforce the law of the social contract. Those covered would constitute a society, which would view certain acts, like stealing, injuring and murdering, as wrong and punishable. Their motivation in enforcing a law against these acts is their desire to live in a society, which would prevent these acts from being done to them and their property or liberty (Wikipedia), which they value highly. This law will prevent both inner chaos and outside attacks.

Furthermore, society would be dedicated to the increase or promotion of one's welfare and the people in it would want such increase and promotion of their property and well-being along with those who share the same belief.

3. All those who agree to be covered by the social contract agree to give up some of their rights, freedom and/or privilege to the state in exchange for its protection by all others covered by the contract (Wikipedia). This provision includes the use of force as a legitimate way of carrying out the law, as agreed by those covered by the contract. This express or implied agreement grants the government agents or law enforcers the right to use certain kinds of power for themselves, including taking some lives, in seeing to it that the law is observed.

Every individual who agrees to the contract surrenders his individual will to give way for the general will or public good. While he is able to injure others or their rights in pursuing what he wants, he restrains himself from this "natural" and barbaric tendency, out of allegiance and respect for the social contract and the law it enforces. The collective interest weighs more to the individual than his own (Taylor 1987) and voluntarily transfers some of his personal privileges to the community in exchange for security of his life and property. Collective rights are vested in the state, which the people themselves directly control, according to their common values and interests. Rosseau thinks that large meetings of individuals covered by the contract will agree and determine what these interests are. What is agreed upon by most of them will constitute the "general will," which the state will dutifully carry out. Rosseau furthermore believes that this combination of individual rights would abolish special privileges and render tyranny impossible, because people would not choose to oppress themselves (Taylor). He differs from Hobbes and Locke in that he believes that the state of nature is a state of individual freedom, rather than a state of war. In that state, creativity flourishes (Wikipedia) and a social contract is established to govern and regulate social interaction.

4. When things go out of hand in the government set up by those covered by the social contract and it becomes more and more abusive and authoritarian (Wikipedia), majority of the people can decide to abolish that agreement. If this government goes on an arresting spree and openly violates government policies and translates into an totalitarian state, it is time to dissolve the agreement that has turned illegitimate. Rebellion is, thus, sanctioned as the "general will" against an abusive authority.

5. Hobbes thinks that the original state of nature was in constant war (Wikipedia). Out of reasonable and selfish ends, people wanted to put an end to that state, because they realized that they would be better off in a world with some sacrifice but with moral rules than in one without moral rules. And so out of collective self-interests, people gathered themselves and established a contract, which would install a government that would govern, protect and promote those collective self-interests under certain agreed laws. Those laws gave the government to control or take away some lives, liberty and property with or without the use of force.

But some thinkers object to Hobbes' theory. They argue that not all individuals are as self-motivated as he thought, in that there are those who focus more on social, religious or political ends (Wikipedia). Some cannot imagine those in equal status in the original chaotic state of nature as attacking each other. The moral rules in Hobbes' government demand more than mere self-preservation but are only rules of "prudence" for those moved only by self-interest. Furthermore, his notion does not provide for occasional breaking of moral rules whenever one can get away with it.

John Locke suggests that the state of nature was pre-political but where human beings were governed by a divinely commanded natural law (Wikipedia). They were free, equal, harmonious and independent. Unlike Hobbes' idea that people banded together to instill order and progress out of disorder and bloodshed, Locked believes that individuals agree to be bound together under a government to prevent any member from occasionally deviating from norms or violating natural law or showing partiality (Wikipedia). These individuals could not be controlled without their consent and they came under a social contract to protect their property. When money was produced beyond necessity, wealth became disproportionate and human beings became unequal, and so a state had to be established to regulate such affairs.

Neither theory allows for the problem of dissenters. These are those who would not agree to the establishment of a government. They would rather take care of themselves and their affairs. What gives that government and its people the right to use force on dissenters is only their social contract to come under that government. A dissenting or disagreeing person does not, and so is not obliged to obey or pay allegiance to that government and its laws.

Are those born at the time the government already has authority over them obliged to accept the social contract even if they really believe there should not be a government? Hobbes thinks that individual dissent is irrelevant and that the consent may just be implied, in that giving up one's liberty for the state or government is assumed if one would agree to establish it if he were in the state of nature (Wikipedia). Locke, on the other hand, maintains that the social contract is an actual agreement, which an individual enters into by just being born and raised in the society with such government if he participated in public acts, such as voting and paying taxes, that require the implied acknowledgment of, and allegiance to, the government that regulated those acts.

Rosseau holds that a society is where all the rights and property of the individuals comprising it are vested in a state, which they themselves control (Taylor). Tyranny would be impossible because the individuals voluntarily surrender their rights and, thereby, abolish special privileges. Critics, however, point to defects…

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