The Social Contract Theory Quiz



9 Questions

What is the social contract theory?

Who wrote the book that gave the social contract theory its name?

What did Hobbes believe was the only alternative to a state of nature?

What did Locke believe individuals in a state of nature would be bound by?

According to Rousseau, when is society legitimate?

What is the central assertion of social contract theory?

Who proposed a contractarian approach to social contract theory in the 20th century?

What did David Hume argue about the ideal foundation of a government?

What did Lysander Spooner argue about the social contract?


Overview of Social Contract Theory

  • Social contract theory concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual.

  • Individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority in exchange for protection of their remaining rights or maintenance of the social order.

  • The relation between natural and legal rights is often a topic of social contract theory.

  • The term takes its name from The Social Contract (French: Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique), a 1762 book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

  • Prominent 17th- and 18th-century theorists of the social contract and natural rights included Hugo de Groot, Thomas Hobbes, Samuel von Pufendorf, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant.

  • Hobbes believed that absolute government was the only alternative to the terrifying anarchy of a state of nature.

  • Locke believed that individuals in a state of nature would be bound morally, by the Law of Nature, and would only agree to form a state that would provide, in part, a "neutral judge".

  • Rousseau believed that society was only legitimate when the sovereign (i.e. the ‘general will’) were the sole legislators.

  • The central assertion that social contract theory approaches is that law and political order are not natural, but human creations.

  • Social contract theories were eclipsed in the 19th century in favor of utilitarianism, Hegelianism, and Marxism.

  • Social contract theory was revived in the 20th century, notably in the form of a thought experiment by John Rawls.

  • Rawls proposed a contractarian approach whereby rational people in a hypothetical "original position" would set aside their individual preferences and capacities under a "veil of ignorance" and agree to certain general principles of justice and legal organization.Summary Title: The Social Contract Theory

  • The social contract theory argues that individuals agree to give up some of their natural rights in exchange for the protection and benefits provided by the government.

  • The theory is based on the idea that moral and political rules are not inherent, but are instead products of a contract between individuals and the government.

  • The social contract theory is based on the principles of trust, rationality, and self-interest, which keep each party honest and dissuade them from breaking the rules.

  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that societal laws are upheld by the collective will of the citizens whom they represent.

  • According to other social contract theorists, citizens can withdraw their obligation to obey or change the leadership through elections or other means, including violence, when necessary.

  • The social contract is used to diagnose mental health in court, with the ultimate aim of delivering a fair sentence.

  • Consent of the governed was the ideal foundation on which a government should rest, but David Hume argued that it had not occurred this way in general.

  • Randy Barnett has argued that consent to all rules the society might make regardless of their content is not necessarily valid. A second condition of consent is that the rules be consistent with underlying principles of justice and the protection of natural and social rights.

  • The theory of an implicit social contract holds that by remaining in the territory controlled by some society, people give consent to join that society and be governed by its government if any.

  • Lysander Spooner, a staunch supporter of the right of contract between individuals, argued that a social contract cannot justify governmental actions because government will initiate force against anyone who does not wish to enter into such a contract.

  • Modern Anglo-American law, like European civil law, is based on a will theory of contract, according to which all terms of a contract are binding on the parties because they chose those terms for themselves.

  • Certain features in the social contract which seem anomalous to us would not have seemed as strange to Hobbes' contemporaries as they do to us.


Test your knowledge of the Social Contract Theory with this informative quiz. Learn about the history and principles of the theory, from the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the modern interpretations of John Rawls. Discover how individuals consent to the authority of the state and the exchange of freedoms for protection. Explore the debate surrounding the legitimacy of the social contract and its impact on modern law and politics. Take the quiz to enhance your understanding of the Social Contract Theory and its significance in society.

Ready to take the quiz?

Start Quiz