John Locke: An Analysis Of The Social Contract

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The social contract has been profoundly tackled throughout the history, starting with the ancient times. The difficulties between the government and its people particularly arise when both try to decide what a legitimate connection ought to incorporate them and, consequently, what would bring everyone towards common agreements. In order to understand why social contract comes into the debate with 16th-17th century philosophers, it would be helpful to reflect on the historical background. Prior to the Enlightenment, the European governments were “divinely absolute,” i.e. it meant that the king possessed the divine rights which exempted his authority from the outside. The king, essentially, possessed all the authority on his own.
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He supported the idea that government ought to be structured according to the will of its people, not according to the will of God, or the government itself (which is based on God’s will). Locke argues that there is really no warranty in imposing the absolute rights and beliefs on others since the real trustworthiness is yet obscure. He thus denounces the divine rights of king which used to be the fundamental edifice of a medieval government. While Locke criticizes the old model, it may seem that he attempts to bring a secular dogma according to which the social contract may be established. Yet it does not mean that Locke is somehow opposed to God. Locke has a high religious tolerance rate as he thinks that everyone can have an option to believe in any religion they choose. He argues that the religious constrain is one of the major reasons that causes the civil unrest. Therefore church should abstain from imparting a single religion. It is also not supposed to represent the politics. Government’s authority, according to Locke, not only ought to be based on a new, secular model, but it ought to be limited as well. People should have a right to partake in governmental affairs and manage their leadership democratically. In this way, they may establish a positive social contract and thus prevent the birth of a leviathan (Sir …show more content…
Locke espouses the idea that God granted Adam the sovereignty and all rights of self-governance. He therefore criticizes Filmer, who mixes the laws of family and politics; in defense of the divine rights of king, Filmer believed that Adam was the first human being to whom God had granted the absolute authority. In contrast with Filmer, Locke argues that since God led Adam towards self maintenance, he provided him all rights which meant that every subsequent human being will also be given equal rights, and each and everyone will be able to access life, liberty, and property (that which will be elaborated later on). It follows therefore that because all humans are equal, we cannot have an absolute government which would result in some people being “more equal” than the others, and legislating opposed to the will of a society. That will contradict the fact that people elect their government according to the mutual agreement of themselves and a government. Hence, Locke feels antagonistic towards the idea of absolutism. He advocates for a constitutional government which, while limited by law, would be moderate and keep the

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