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Perform a critical evaluation of thoughts of ‘Social Contract Theory’ of the origin of the state.

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Social Contract Theory of origin of State: 

Social Contract’ theory as regards origin of state is thought to be an imaginary principle. According to it, the formation of the state was based on the mutual contract among the people living in the natural state. The main founding scholars of this theory are Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. They have enlisted this principle in distinct forms based on human nature, natural state, the cause of contract, nature of contract, the result of contract.

Main characteristics of Social Contract Theory: 

The following are the main characteristics of the Social Contract Theory, as proposed by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau: 

1. Explanation of human nature: 

All the there thinkers, Hobbes, Locke and and Rousseau, have described the human nature prior to the analysis of the natural state, and on the basis of this, they have portrayed the natural state. Locke and Rousseau termed the human as having good nature, but at the same time, Hobbes describes the human as being selfish, peevish and arrogant. 

2. Imagination of condition of natural state: 

The state is not a perpetual institution. It is not omnipresent in its existence. All the three scholars, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, have portrayed the state (condition) prior to the origin of the state, which they have named the ‘Natural state’. 

3. Causes of contract: 

Stateless ‘Natural state’ was not beneficial for the interests of the people. Locke and Rousseau had initially described the natural state as decent and peaceful, but later on, it became strife-torn and anarchic due to infusion of some selfish tendencies, etc. Now, people wanted to get rid of them. 

4. Social contract theory: 

In order to get freed from the natural state, all the people went for the social contract on the basis of equality and with mutual consensus and cooperation. In this way, the people in the natural state formed the civic society in a planned way, ending the natural state. 

5. Result of contract: 

The ‘Civic society’ is different from its prior state of ‘Natural state’ in a way that in civic society, the state is present and the management of the society in done by sovereignty. It was imagined in the social contract that the formation of the state is done with the purpose of serving the interests of all the people. 

Criticism of Social Contract Theory: 

After remaining popular for two centuries, this theory was negated and its criticism started on historical, philosophical, logical and legal bases. 

The criticism of the social contract theory can be done on the following bases: 

1. Criticism on historical basis: 

Many scholars have criticized the social contract theory on historical basis. Hume, the British philosopher, said that no proof is found about this contract in the primitive state. Another scholar, Green, termed it as ‘fantasy’, Whereas Henriman termed it as ‘rubbish’. Most of the scholars believe this principle imaginative and non – certified. According to them, this theory unilaterally defines human nature, and that, state is a result of development, not of creation. 

2. Criticism on philosophical basis: 

Different scholars have criticized the social contract theory on philosophical basis, as this principle expects imagination of a state by such an organization whose membership is optional, whereas, in fact, the membership of the state is mandatory. The state is not an artificial institution, instead, it is a natural institution based on natural human tendency. This theory incites rebellion and anarchy. 

3. Criticism on legal basis: 

Many scholars have criticized this theory on legal basis. According to them, this theory does not hold ground on legal basis. If people are going to have a contract in the natural state, then it is wrong in legal terms, because to award legal recognition to the contract, there has to exist a state for its acceptance. There was no ‘State’ in the natural state. The contract is enforced on them who ink it, and therefore, this contract is not acceptable in eye of the legal premise.

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