21 Mar 2022


Social Contract Theory: Moral and Political Obligations

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Social Contract Theory

Social Contract theory is a theory which says that one's moral and political obligations rely on an agreement, the contract existing among them in society. Some people hold a belief that we can live being governed by our own policies and not because a divine power needs it. Philosophers like Socrates have made attempts in trying to describe the ideal social contract and explain the evolution of social contracts that have been (Mansell, 2015.)

In an encounter with the court, Socrates decided to honor court decision, to him he said that the law was friendly to him and hence it his obedience. Socrates obeyed the law until he died. Social contract theory is an obligation to people regardless of it being social, political and moral. Either, Thomas Hobbes defends this theory and gives it full exposition (Hoffman, Allamila, Liang, 2018). To Stuart Rachels, morality involves rules governing behavior that is accepted by rational people in the manners that they are also accepted by others. The theory is realistic and views people without rules.

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Divine command theory views morality as being dependent on God and that moral obligation involves obeying God’s commands (Muldoon, 2016). It claims that actions which are morally upright are the ones that God is in need of. Social contract theory can be at a position to escape from issues in divine command theory. As we have seen, the divine command theory sticks on obedience to Gods commands and believing that morally right actions are associated with God. In sticking to what social contract theory believes in, it is subjected to a situation where it does not divulge to the arguments in other theories; divine command theory. Social contract theory should choose to remain intact to what it believes in and the stand it holds on morality (Joensuu, Makela et al. 2018).


Hoffman, A. J., Alamilla, S., & Liang, B. (2018). The Social Contract Theory Revisited: Examining the Relationship Between Greed, Conflict, and the Evolution of Cooperation. In The Role of Community Development in Reducing Extremism and Ethnic Conflict (pp. 135-153). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Joensuu, K., Mäkelä, M., & Onkila, T. (2018). Contradictory stakeholder expectations for sustainability reporting–a social contract theory approach. In Social Innovation and Sustainable Entrepreneurship . Edward Elgar Publishing.

Mansell, S. (2015). Book review: rejoinder to Veldman’s review of capitalism, corporations and the social contract: A critique of stakeholder theory (Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 271-275). Sage UK: London, England: Sage Publications.

Muldoon, R. (2016). Social contract theory for a diverse world: Beyond tolerance . Routledge.

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