The Social Contract Theorists by Christopher W. Morris

By Christopher W. Morris

This reader introduces scholars of philosophy and politics to the modern serious literature at the classical social agreement theorists: Thomas Hobbes (1599-1697), John Locke (1632-1704), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Twelve thoughtfully chosen essays advisor scholars in the course of the texts, familiarizing them with key parts of the speculation, whereas whilst introducing them to present scholarly controversies. A bibliography of extra paintings is supplied. The classical social agreement theorists symbolize one of many or 3 most crucial glossy traditions in political proposal. Their principles ruled political debates in Europe and North the USA within the seventeenth and 18th centuries, influencing political thinkers, statesmen, structure makers, revolutionaries, and different political actors alike. Debates throughout the French Revolution and the early heritage of the yankee Republic have been frequently performed within the language of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Later political philosophy can in simple terms be understood by contrast backdrop. And the modern revival of contractarian ethical and political proposal, represented via John Rawls' A thought of Justice (1971) or David Gauthier’s Morals by way of contract (1986), should be preferred within the background of this practice.

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Rulers are, in this sense, the servants of the ruled. The latter cease being subjects and become citizens. In Rousseau's particular version of this idea, "the people" rule and become "the sovereign"; government is merely their agent. These influential ideas of original freedom and equality, of basing government on agreement and expecting it to serve the interests of the governed, are developed in different ways in the social contract theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Hobbes and Locke differ Page x especially in their views of the status of the moral law of nature and of our natural rights, the former seeming to deny that natural laws are genuine laws and asserting that our only natural right is essentially a mere liberty to do whatever we think conducive to our survival.

It is the transition, for which Hobbes offers no explicit justification, from the observation that persons in the state of nature must fear violence from others, to the claim that anticipation is the most reasonable way for such persons to attempt to protect themselves. Despite the fact that this crucial Page 6 inference has escaped criticism in the literature, it is clear that it is fallacious. For in emphasizing the obvious advantages of anticipatory or preemptive violence, Hobbes utterly ignores three special dangers one would encounter if one were to engage in it.

The English Works of Thomas Hobbes (London: John Bohn, 1839), vol. 3 (hereafter cited at Leviathan). 2. , David Gauthier, The Logic of Leviathan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 14-18; Richard Peters, Hobbes (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1956), pp. 168-72; and D. D. Raphael, Hobbes (London: George Allen & Unwin Publishers, 1977), pp. 30-31. 3. , in Leslie Stephen, Hobbes (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961), pp. 136-42, 182-84; and C. B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), pp.

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