What Is Social Contract Theory Of Origin Of State?4 min read

by Politic360 Publishers
Social Contract Theory Of Origin Of State

English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau systematically presented the Social Contract Theory Of Origin of State

Ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle also discussed social contract theory and rejected it. 

The Greeks and Romans also discussed this theory, but after the fall of Greece and Rome, the social contract theory was no more convincing. 

Statement Of The Theory

Social contract theory tells us about the origin of the State. 

About the evolution of the State, this theory tells three aspects: 

State of Nature

State of nature was the conditions before the State when there was neither State nor law, but the man lived in natural conditions.

In the first phase of human civilization, man was found in the “state of nature,” when he was not under any man-made law. He was under natural laws. 

Some writers say that the State of nature was pre-social; it was prior to human society. 

While others say that it was pre-political, it was a society but without State.

Locke and Rousseau are of the view that the State of nature was a “time of real happiness.”

Tomas Hobbs says that was one of “wild savagery” ruled by “might was right.” 

Whatever the lifestyle might be, all social contract theorists agree that individuals in the State of nature entered into an agreement to form a state. 

The Contract 

People in the State of nature entered into a voluntary contract.

Its advocates describe varying causes of entering into a social contract, and there are different opinions.

Hobbs says that people in the State of nature were tired of their lawless life, and they wanted to establish a political institution to create peace and order. 

Locke and Rousseau describe some other causes. 

In the social contract, the individuals gave up their “natural rights and freedom” and subordinated themselves to state regulations. 

The State: 

Due to social contract, individuals of the State of nature formed a “state” in which man-made laws replaced natural law. 

Although the believers of this contract theory are of different opinions, despite their slight differences, all agree that the State is the result of a social contract.

Critical Evaluation Of Social Contract Theory Of Origin Of State

Historical Status Of Social Contract Theory

It is criticized that social contract theory has no historical background.

In human history, there is nothing to find men living in a state of nature without social relationships or proof of a social contract, which created society and State. 

The creators of this theory fail to prove its historical base. 

Impossibility of Change 

The basic principles of this theory are wrong.

A sudden change from the State of nature into a peaceful community in the State is impossible. 

It requires a long period of training, education and social growth to bring about such a change. 

It is impossible that men living in the State of nature became suddenly aware of the institutions and agreed to make a state through a contract. 

No Logical And Scientific Base 

This theory explains that men lived a free life in the State of nature and voluntarily agreed to enter into a contract to make a state.

This social contract theory lacks logical proof. 

This theory believes in the equality of men in the State of nature, but it is not correct. 

In the State of nature, one can think of inequality only. Rights, equality and liberty, cannot exist in the State of nature. 

If men lived separately and had no common aims, then there would be no possibility of equality, rights, and independence. 

The whole theory about the State of nature and the Laws Of Nature is baseless. It is based on the theory that the State is a man-made invention. 

The state results from natural growth. A contract is always between the two parties, but it is unilateral. 

Further, a contract is always between the conscious people, but they are less aware in the State of nature. 


Social contract theory is based on self-contradictory principles. 

It says that man in the State of nature sat together to enter into a social contract and make the State. 

On one side, they say that people were pre-political in the State of nature.

While on the other hand, they say that men sat together and formed a political organization (State). 

So, how a pre-political person made a political institution? 

The word ‘contract’ is a legal term, and it presupposes a system of laws to enforce it.

But the social contract theory advocates say that there were no laws to enforce the contract. 

This theory contradicts the factual basis of the State. The theory says that the relationship between the individual and the State is voluntary. 

On the contrary, the State is a compulsory association and is a permanent human institution for common objectives. 

Such an association cannot be obtained in minutes through a contract. 

The theory of social contract has some dangerous aspects. 

It says that the State is a voluntary organization based on the common good, working for general security and defense of the individuals. 

If a person today withdraws from the contract on the plea that his interests are not safe, what will be the results of his withdrawal from the contract?

This theory itself is dangerous for the very integrity and survival of the State. 

If a state is based on a voluntary contract, it means to leave it at the mercy of those people who are a party in the social contract. 

The reaction of the Succeeding Generations

Let’s accept that State is the outcome of a contract, but the question is whether succeeding generations are bound to follow any political contract made in the past?

New generations can rebel or revolt against the contract or the State. 

It will disintegrate the State because the new generation refuses to accept any contract. 

Comments On Social Contract Theory

This theory says the State is a human institution, not a divine creation, or based on force. 

Rousseau says, “will……not force is the basis of the state”. 

This theory stressed on consent and human will, and it has introduced the era of change and democracy. 

This theory put an end to irresponsible monarchies and forced politics. It put an end to the theory of the Divine Rights of the kings. 

The origin of modern democracy is seen in the writings of the social contract theorists. 

It was the social contract theory that encouraged the British people to gain liberty. 

The social contract theory, especially by Rousseau, inspired the French and American people to launch revolutions. 

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