Explain briefly how, in general, social contract theory attempts to justify government authority.

Freedom and Authority


For this assignment, you will write an essay about the above listed topic. You must consider:

  • The versions of social contract theory proposed by Thomas Hobbes and either John Locke or Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
  • Your own view of the proper relation between society and the individual.

The readings in Week 6 gave you an overview of social contract theory and the account of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. You may use the sources provided to help craft your paper, but feel free to supplement with sources of your own.Address the following in your paper:

  • Explain briefly how, in general, social contract theory attempts to justify government authority.
    • Why do individuals choose to live together and give up some of their freedom to live under common rules and laws?
  • Apply the social contract theories of Hobbes and either Locke or Rousseau to a selected contemporary issue.
    • Briefly explain Hobbes’s version of social contract theory and then either Locke’s or Rousseau’s. Then, apply each to the issue you have selected. How would each settle the debate over the issue?
  • Assess the advantages and disadvantages of these theories as they relate to a selected issue.
    • From what you have learned in reading about and discussing these theories, what are the main pros and cons of each as it applies to the scenario.
  • Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations.


Your assignment should also meet the following requirements:

  • Written communication: Ensure written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message. You may use Capella Writing Center for helpful writing resources.
  • APA formatting: Format resources and citations using current APA style and formatting guidelines. You may find the resources Academic Honesty & APA Style and Formatting and Plagiarism [PDF] helpful.
  • Number of resources: Use your judgment to ensure your topic is thoroughly researched; there is no minimum number of resources required.
  • Length of paper: Submit 2–3 typed, double-spaced pages.

Several political philosophers have explained the foundation of governmental authority in terms of a social contract, including:


  • Individuals are purely selfish, so they naturally exist in a state of war with all.
  • In self-defense, we join together under the authority of a sovereign who rules.



  • In nature, rational agents have equal right to enforce the natural law.
  • For protection of “life, liberty, and property,” we consent to be governed.
  • Notice the influence of this approach on founders of the United States.



  • We are born free, so any agreement to join together is purely voluntary.
  • Each individual freely chooses to serve the “general will,” the welfare of all.




Subject: Masters Psychology




the attached resources are Week 6 readings


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