Jacque Rousseau's Theory Of Rationality And Morality In Civil Society

1310 Words 6 Pages
Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacque Rousseau weigh into the discussion about justice and morality in both in the State of Nature and within civil societies. Hobbes enforces that individuals do not have any moral obligations in the State of Nature or within civil society, but instead all decisions are made with rationality. Therefore, legitimacy and justice are based upon his notional of rationality and the validity of covenants created. Locke argues that humans are moral in both the State of Nature and in civil society and what makes the government legitimate is due to the common good of all rather than what a rational individual would do. Lastly, Rousseau takes a view that merges both Hobbes’ and Locke’s views of morality by claiming …show more content…
Entering civil society, under the Sovereign, does not grant humans morality, but it is instead driven by rationality. This rationality that humans possess will lead to the production of valid covenants between humans and the Sovereign. Humans, rationally can only follow valid covenants, and therefore these covenants, to Hobbes, are the only forms of legitimacy in civil society. For the sovereign to be in effect all covenants created must be valid, for Hobbes, justice consists of the keeping of valid covenants (128) . But validity covenants with setting up an enforcement power for the people to perform. If it is rational to follow, then the covenant is considered valid. The sovereign can do virtually no harm as he is not bound by the terms of the original covenant, the agreement to enter this society, unless he orders an individual to do something they would not rationally be able to do, such as taking his own life. If the sovereign does this, then there does not exist a valid covenant. However, despite Hobbes giving the Sovereign almost ultimate power he does give a warning that the sovereign should think of the safety and what is needful to the people, and that justice is in keeping of valid covenants (193). While Hobbes does not believe that …show more content…
The common judge is a legitimate authority so long as it is protecting these property rights of those in the civil society. When people in the State of Nature are their own judge they have their own biases and thus do not have legitimate power to protect them. The members of this civil society have given up and expressly agreed to be part of this agreement and therefore they are subject to the laws of the common judge. However, unlike Hobbes, this power is not absolute. While there does exist a government, which protects the rights of the individuals, the people as a majority are in charge. Thus, all the laws that are created are limited to the common good (246) . If a law is created that infringes on the rights of the people, then the people have the right to rebel and bring society back to the people as if that government had not existed in the first place (284). What is important to note is the people, per Locke, are moral in the State of Nature and once they enter civil

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