Original essay on Plato and Hobbes's contribution to the concept of social contract theory.
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Socrates’ Virtue and Hobbes’s Fear: Two Views on Social Contract Theory
If the state no longer protects its citizens, at what point does the “social contract” dissolve? The question is important when we think about the individual in relationship to the state. According to social contract theory, individuals in society form an unwritten contract with the government. However, why do we choose to live under the authority of the government? What benefits does this give individual citizens? In light of these questions, we can turn to two philosophers in the history of philosophy for answers.
In the fourth century B.C.E., Socrates lived under the rule of the Athenian democracy. Plato, Socrates’ student, wrote about Socrates’ conversations. Plato thought that society ought to reflect, as much as possible, the greatest good man can achieve. Plato worried that if society does not help to educate its citizens to be the best version of themselves, then society would unravel. In fact, Plato was critical of democratic governments because he thought that the opinion of the majority was usually not as good as the reasoned out thinking of the enlightened few....
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