Social Contract Theory, Political Obligation and Citizen Responsibility
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This paper explores John Locke's social contract theory and how it describes how and why people implicitly agree to abide by the rules and norms of a society they choose to live in. The paper then explains Plato's, Hobbes' and Rousseau's theories on political obligation in terms of a social contract and also discusses teleological and deontological theories for political obligation. The paper considers whether we are always obliged to obey the state just by living within its borders, regardless of whether the policies it pursues are morally right, and concludes that while there is no clear answer, in a liberal democracy there is an obligation to obey the state as it allows its citizens to have an input into state policies and procedures. The paper argues that as long as the state operates legitimately and democratically, it is our duty as citizens to respect and support it.
From the Paper:"In order for a state to operate effectively, there has to be consent from the citizens over which it has governance. This agreement is often referred to as political obligation that is, the commitment that causes people to be compelled to obey the state and the laws with which it operates. Flatham considers this obligation to be a political one '...because it is an integral part of the political arrangements and process of the society...' Political obligation undoubtedly provides the stability upon which modern democracies operate (Flatham, 1972). Without a sense of obligation from its citizens, the state would become inefficient and in effect, redundant. However there is not an all-encompassing definition of political obligation and from where it is derived. Instead there are many explanations of why we face an obligation to obey the state.
"People agree to abide by the rules set forth for the society they live in, from complying with rules of social conduct, to obeying laws that are held within the society's criminal justice system. Additionally, those rules are implicitly agreed to when a person breaks the law and is subject to legal consequences. John Locke and the Society Contract Theory help describe how and why people implicitly agree to abide by the rules and norms of a society they choose to live in (Waldron, 1989)."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Ashcraft, R. (1986). Revolutionary Politics & Locke's Two Treatises of Government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Flatham, R. (1972). Political Obligation. New York: Atheneum.
- Harel, A. (2008). Why Only The State May Inflict Criminal Sanctions: The Case Against Privately Inflicted Sanctions. Legal Theory , 113-133.
- Heywood, A. (1999). Political Theory: An Introduction. Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan.
- Horton, J. (1992). Political Obligation. Hampshire: MacMillan.
Cite this Analytical Essay:
Social Contract Theory, Political Obligation and Citizen Responsibility (2013, January 15) Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/social-contract-theory-political-obligation-and-citizen-responsibility-152222/
"Social Contract Theory, Political Obligation and Citizen Responsibility" 15 January 2013. Web. 29 November. 2022. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/social-contract-theory-political-obligation-and-citizen-responsibility-152222/>