How did people ever get together, and probably be still long enough, to form government? Were their rights negotiated or given? In this discussion we will look at the meaning and nature of the social contract as seen from the point of view of political theorists, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
General Social Contract
According to Roland (1994): "The fundamental basis for government and law in this system is the concept of the social contract, according to which human beings begin as individuals in a state of nature, and create a society by establishing a contract whereby they agree to live together in harmony for their mutual benefit, after which they are said to live in a state of society. This contract involves the retaining of certain natural rights, an acceptance of restrictions of certain liberties, the assumption of certain duties, and the pooling of certain powers to be exercised collectively."
So the use of a social contract is a give and take negotiation -usually. Because of this, it is excepted that the individual does have rights to begin with, but by entering a community or starting a society, he agrees that certain individual rights will be overridden for the greater good of the society.
Social Contract via Hobbes
One of the curious things about doing research concerning Thomas Hobbes is that he is invariably labeled a "lunatic" or a crazy person, and that was by his contemporaries. We may look at his ideas, and be bemused, in any of its variant forms. Yet his theories concerning the nature of things have survived in history, possibly due to their perceived outlandishness, or do they overtly say, those things that the rest of us would keep to ourselves or only think about.
Thomas Hobbes wrote an influential book titled Leviathan (1651).