Governance along a Failure-Success Continuum with Illustrations from Benin, Cameroon and the DRC
Chapter One: Social Contract Theories and theraison d’être of governments
Chapter One Social Contract Theories and the raison d’être of governments Social Contract Theory is based on the reasoning that a contract or an agreement exists between men in order to build a civil society where their life, liberty and estates are preserved by a political authority: government (Locke 1689: Book I: § 3). This contract is based upon human morals and the people’s political be- liefs and obligation. The Social Contract Theory has a strong impact on modern moral and political theory. Thomas Hobbes is credited as the first philosopher to give a full exposition and argument for the social contract theory in his writ- ing of 1651 titled The Leviathan. Further contributions from other philosophers, including John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, immensely increased the in- fluence of this theory, translating it into an influential moral and political theory for political systems and governments of the West and later, for other parts of the world (Lasslet 1988: 4). The social contract addresses questions surrounding our individual freedom in society as well as the “organisation” which leads to achieving this freedom and our general well-being. According to Locke (1689), men united and gave up their personal freedom for “general freedom”. However, general freedom depends upon the mutual foundation of this contract between the “state” (re- ceiver of individual rights/freedom) and the individual (giver of personal rights and receiver of services and protection from the state). In this regard, Western nations that are influenced by the moral and political impact of...
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