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The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679 ) and the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778 ) were perhaps the most influential social contract thinkers whose thinking represented a radical shift from the prevailing political beliefs of their time Hobbes developed his particular view of morality and politics in his philosophical masterpiece Leviathan that was published in 1651 . Rousseau theorized about social contracts in his book The Social Contract , Or Principles of Political Right , which appeared in 1762 (Friend Social Contract Theory

Although there were

many serious differences in Hobbes and Rousseau 's philosophies , these thinkers did hold a few beliefs in common . For both Hobbes and Rousseau the prevalent belief of their time in the divine right of kings ' was unsubstantiated , unreasonable , and illogical Instead , they believed that the legitimacy of leaders in a society was dependent only on the approval or the support of the people living under their rule . In other words , both philosophers believed that a government should come from the consent of the governed ( The Social Contract . Hobbes and Rousseau also theorized that prior to the establishment of early societies and governments people lived or existed in what they called the State of Nature . In this state all individuals lived mostly isolated from one another they were free and equal and followed mainly the dictates of nature ( The Social Contract

Hobbes on the State of Nature

Hobbes characterized the State of Nature as a war of all against all . On the one hand , in the State of Nature all individuals were more or less equal to one another and had unlimited natural freedoms including the natural right to all the things around them . But on the other hand , they were exclusively self-interested and egoistic , and due to the limited resources people had the freedom to harm or destroy anyone who threatened the satisfaction of their needs and desires as well as their own self-preservation . Hobbes concluded that in such wild conditions of lawlessness life was poor , solitary , nasty , and often short because every individual was in constant fear of losing their life to

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another . The long-term satisfaction of humans ' needs or desires could not be ensured nor was possible any long-term or complex cooperation because of utter distrust among humans (Friend Social Contract Theory

As most people lived in brutal conditions of perpetual and unavoidable war trying and wanting first and foremost , according to their instinct of self-preservation , to avoid their own deaths , Hobbes concluded that the State of Nature was the worst and the most unbearable situation in which people could ever find themselves . It was Hobbes 's belief that fear for their own life led humans to unite around a strong leader or a group of leaders that could protect them from other individuals or groups . It was in this way that people managed to escape from the State of Nature and formed the early civil society (Friend Social Contract Theory

Rousseau on the State of...

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