Term Paper Final Draft - Balloga 1 Abram Balloga Basak...

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Balloga, 1 Abram Balloga Basak Gazioglu Political Philosophy Term Paper 4/13/2006 The Supposed Social Contract The purpose and reason for government is often described in terms of a social contract between the rulers and their subjects. This is no paper contract, but rather a philosophical one of intentions. Several great philosophers have defined this relationship in there own terms, offering a diverse and sometimes conflicting set of arguments for the state of nature, rights, and governments surrounding this issue. Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau have each contributed much to this area of political philosophy. In their writings – Leviathan, Second Treatise of Government , and Discourse on the Origin of Inequality/On the Social Contract respectively – they declare that the social contract must be chosen by the ruled and that “civil association is the most voluntary act in the world” (Rousseau, 205). Another philosopher, David Hume, believes that this “social contract” is not useful in understanding the authority of true governments: Can we seriously say that a poor peasant or artisan has a free choice to leave his country, when he knows no foreign language or manners, and lives from day to day by the small wages which he acquires? We may as well assert that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master, though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean and perish the moment he leaves her. In this essay, I will evaluate the applicability of this concept of a “social contract” in discussing the character of a just society. Using the theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, I will try to answer the question, or challenge, posed by David Hume. The first order of business is to interpret Hume by separating the criteria of his objection. Also certain assumptions must be made about the scenario in order to bring make the very broad question much more specific, thus exhibiting key points to analyze. Then, after finding how the philosophies of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau address such a condition, we may come to conclusions on how each philosopher would answer Hume. From his wording, the question concerns a citizen who is, instead of consciously accepting its terms, born into an already established social contract – one that, since he desires to leave it, he
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Balloga, 2 presumably finds disagreeable. Hume has not specified whether the citizen is poor due to circumstances created by the government or due to his own inadequacies. If the latter is true, then that individual is no worse off under its current social contract than under any of the governments preferred by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. However, this essay is written under the assumption that this person and his forbearers were brought into this condition of poverty through the incompetence’s of the government, and he expects a better life would greet him under a different social contract. The rulers make no direct attempt to trap him within the contact, yet the citizen will certainly die if he tries to escape.
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