Locke and Rousseau on the Social Contract

Looks at the contrasting viewpoints on the ‘social contract’ by political philosophers, John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau.

John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau both employed the “social contract” device, yet they arrived at very different political conclusions. Rousseau believed very much in a social contract, but in which the freedom of the individual would have to be subordinated to the collective good. In other words, in his eyes, people would have to abide by a certain contract and sacrifice their own individuality. Locke was much different in that he also believed in a social contract, but a social contract that the government, not the people, was responsible to. If the government sacrificed the contract, then the people had a right to throw the government out.

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