ballbPolitical Science

Social Contract Theory : Theories of Origin of State (Part 2)


Thomas Hobbes ( 1588-1679) : Leviathan (1651)
John Locke ( 1632-1704) : Second Treatise of Government (1689)
Rousseau ( 1712-1778)



  1. Thomas Hobbes:
    • Nature of State: The state of nature is a condition of constant conflict and competition for resources. Life is “nasty, brutish, and short.”
    • Contract Formation: People enter into a social contract to escape the state of nature and establish a powerful, centralized authority to maintain order and security.
  2. John Locke:
    • Nature of State: The state of nature is a state of equality and freedom where people have natural rights to life, liberty, and property.
    • Contract Formation: The social contract is formed to protect and preserve these natural rights through a limited government that serves the people’s interests.
  3. Jean-Jacques Rousseau:
    • Nature of State: In the state of nature, people are inherently good and free, but societal inequalities corrupt them.
    • Contract Formation: The social contract is a collective agreement to establish a just society where individuals retain their freedom while participating in a common will to achieve the general good.

Why Contract Formed in These Nature of State:

  • Hobbes: To escape the chaos and violence of the state of nature.
  • Locke: To protect and preserve natural rights in a more orderly and secure environment.
  • Rousseau: To address the corrupting influence of inequality and create a just society where people cooperate for the common good.
Theories of Origin of State Social contract Theory
Theories of Origin of State: Social contract Theory


  • Hobbes’ state of nature is characterized by fear and conflict, necessitating a strong central authority.
  • Locke’s state of nature is marked by individual rights and freedoms, calling for a limited government to protect these rights.
  • Rousseau’s state of nature emphasizes the corrupting effects of inequality, leading to a collective agreement for the common good.

Common Elements:

  • All three theorists propose a hypothetical social contract to establish organized societies.
  • They agree that in the state of nature, life is challenging and lacks security.
  • Social contracts aim to create a more stable and just society, although they differ in their interpretations of human nature and the role of government.

Read Previous Note: Theories of Origin of State (Part 1): Divine Theory and Force Theory

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