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Locke’s View on the Social Contract by Rousseau

Locke’s View on the Social Contract by Rousseau.

The history of political philosophy and its role in shaping the political systems is filled with thoughts from different philosophers who include Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau. Locke has especially been influential in shaping American thought and this is visible from the impact of his writings on the US constitution. In his philosophical thought that has come to be widely accepted and undisputable, Locke extends the fact that consent of those being governed is vital in the legitimation of political authority. From Locke’s perspective, each individual has an executive power that he forfeits after making a compact through explicit consent to submit to the will of a government body and hence the emergence of a political society. Much more, Locke bases the idea of the need for civil governance on the essence of private property where men abandon the state of nature to form governments that protect their property. From these perspectives, Locke justifies political authority from the idea of a social contract.

Locke’s View on the Social Contract by Rousseau

            Rousseau as another influential philosopher also offers justification for political authority on the basis of the social contract where individuals submit their wills to the general will that come about from agreements with other equal and free persons. Both Locke and Rousseau offer an almost similar conception on the emergence of political authority and governance. Even with certain similarities between them, the philosophical thoughts of Locke and Rousseau are not always aligned. Locke’s assessment of Rousseau’s social contract would yield an alignment with his own views regarding political authority and also evidence some contrast emerging from absolutism embodied by Rousseau’s political society and a conservatively democratic entity projected by Locke.  

Background: Political authority according to Locke. In postulation of his thoughts regarding the emergence and proliferation of political authority, Locke bases his arguments on the fact that all men are born free and equal while in the State of Nature. In this State of Nature, man has the ultimate authority in the protection and preservation of his property which include life, liberty, estates, and attempted injuries from other men.

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