The Social Contract Theories of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke: Comparative Analysis

  • John Michael V Sasan PAU Excellencia Global Academy Foundation, Phillippines,
Keywords: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Social contract theory, Comparative study, Leviathan, Second Treatise of Civil Government


This study engages in the concept of social contract of Hobbes and Locke, and the similarities and differences of their ideas. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke both begin their political ideas with a discussion on the state of nature and the danger of living outside the community. For Thomas Hobbes, the state of nature is chaotic; it is in the state of mutual competition. He claims that the state of nature is a state of war, every man against everybody. Due to a constant competition for power and reputation, the man’s equality leads the state of nature into chaos. Man who is bestowed with equal capacities for thinking and reasoning is moved by whatever he wants for survival and preservation no matter what it takes. This state of nature, according to Thomas Hobbes, is a state of egoistic self-preservation and necessity for survival. Meanwhile, John Locke is rather optimistic in his view in the state of nature, compared to the pessimistic view of Thomas Hobbes. He sees humans as decent species which are capable of knowing what is right and wrong. Although man in the state of nature lives with full freedom, yet he is still at risk of harm and invasion. The property is very unsafe and unsecure, however, free yet full of fears. On this matter, man realizes and decides to create a contract and agree to the terms for peaceful and secure life for the safe and security of their liberty and possession. Furthermore, for Thomas Hobbes, social contract is a mutual transferring of rights to the sovereign. For him, social contract is responsible for the morality and the conception of right and wrong, just and unjust. Hence, social contract is very significant to every individual because it is the source of law and regulations and basis of morality. For Locke, the chief reason why man in creating an agreement or contract is the property. The main argument is Locke’s social contract.

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