John Locke And The Social Contract

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Introduction

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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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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