John Locke's Social Contract Theoy

Short discussion of John Locke's social contract theoy as an advancement upon the basis of Hobbes by taking a realistic view of human-kind and incorporating such a view into his political philosophy.

Locke's concept of the social contract is much more palitable than Hobbes' was. Locke not only delineates the nature and cause of the social contract, but he rationalizes his reasoning better. Locke's concept of a proper government and the relationship between the government and the people is also more consistent with a social contract theory than Hobbes was. While Hobbes' monarchy would work assuming the absolute goodness and reliability of the king, Locke allows for the shortcomings of human beings in reality, thus his propsal for social government is a more realistic doctrine.

Locke's concept of the state of nature, however, is equally questionable with that of Hobbes. When Locke delves into the question of property, he reasons well in his differentiation between the property of mankind and the property of a man. He even skirts on Marx's labor theory of value. It is interesting to compare Locke's theories with contemporary capitalist societies which claim to have a basis in Locke. I see little similarity between the two. Slavery (chattel and wage), exploitation, limited popular access to government, and social priorities which benefit a select part of society all challenge the west's claim to a Locke-style government system.

Locke's assertion that an alien is exempt from the laws of a country to which he is not a citizen is a curious segment of his doctrine. Would an alien then be free to commit crime in a foreign land? We need not even consider a serious crime such as murder. Could a foreigner simply break the speed limit or expose himself in public?



Why would not simply making use of the lands of a country (i.e. for traveling) make you subject to that country's laws because of the implicit benefits you gain (i.e. safe passage, an efficient road, etc.)? I believe that Locke himself addresses this question from this point of view in a later section of the Second Treatise.

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