The Social Contract Theory
The social contract theory states how the life of a person is dependent on a contract among people to form a society in which they live. It is a theory that tries to explain the morals and political ways of life of a person. Several theorists have stated their own versions of the theory, and each of the versions has had its share of criticism and support.
Based on the most original versions of the theory, Socrates explains why as a prisoner, he should stay in prison and accept whatever sentence is passed on him, rather than escape and go to another city or country. He goes on to say that since he was born and bred in Athens, Greek, and has lived all his life based on the laws governing the country. Therefore, he has the obligation to obey all the laws and rules of the country. This he insists despite the fact that as an adult, he has the freedom to leave his country if he does not like the laws governing it, and in particular, the laws used to prosecute him and pass a death penalty on him.
Socrates’ argument makes one ask themselves what justice is. Justice is a moral concept that is used on all aspects of life, and has a punishment alongside it in the chance that one breaches any of the aspects that include religion, equity, the law, to list but a few. However, this is in contrast to Socrates argument that justice is obeying all the rules and laws of the society in which we live in, despite of there being elements of injustice.
Theorists such as Thomas Hobbes have come up with modern versions of the theory. Hobbes version integrates two theories: the theory of human motivation and of social contract. According to him, moral values are just reflections of individual tastes and preferences. Human beings have got individual interests, and since they have the capacity and ability to reason, will do things that interest them individually. Despite individual interests, man is compelled to the laws of nature. Laws of nature state that man has to agree on what forms the basis of their rights, and then chose one amongst themselves, to reinforce the contract. Consequently, the aspect of human beings being compelled to governance, to ensure that there is justice and peace in the society.
John Locke disputes Hobbes version of the social theory by stating that the State of nature is not a condition or about individual reflections, rather, it starts from parents who voluntarily care for their children. Politically, the State of nature is defined when the men representing their families gives up their executive power and hand it over to a government. This argument creates room for people to rebel against being under the control or rule of a government. In turn, this would result to a lot of injustices in the society, as well as lack of peace.