What is Thomas Hobbes’s Social Contract Theory?

Thomas Hobbes’s Social Contract Theory

What is Thomas Hobbes’s Social Contract Theory?


The three thinkers Thomas Hobbes, John Jorke and JJ Reossieu have one common point that is people make a contract to live in society peacefully. The state is a socially agreed product. Now differences come between the contracts of these three thinkers. They explained different reasons why the state came into being. They explained their reasons based on the following points:

  • Why they did a contract?
  • What was in the contract?
  • How did they make a state?

Thomas Hobbes

Basic Biography

Thomas Hobbes was born in England in 1588 AD. At that time, there was Anarchy in England. The fear of civil war and Spanish invasion created this Anarchy. 

Early Education

Hobbes later studied Philosophy and Law at Oxford University. After this, he started writing and teaching but due to his radical ideas, he left England for Paris. Where he continued his writing and teaching. 

Important Book

The most important book of Thomas Hobbes is Leviathan. 

Social Contract Theory

The Context of Theory

In the era of Hobbes, there was anarchy and fear of Spanish invasion and civil war in England, He believed that during civil war and invasion, there is a threat to human life and property. According to Hobbes, the fear could end with a powerful Monarchy. 

At the time of Hobbes, the ruler was a King and the King's powers were being challenged by the Parliament. There was a fear of civil war between the Royalists and the Republicans. The Royalists were defending the King’s power while the Republicans were defending the parliament’s powers. 

So Thomas Hobbes was in the favour of King. furthermore, the groups were supporting the Royalists on the basis of divine rights. Hobbes also wanted the KIng but he was the person who grew to be enlightened. He believed in science, wisdom and modernity. 

In order to justify the powers of the King in England, Hobbes had to give a theory which is called the social contract theory


Human Nature 

Thomas Hobbes began his theory of social contract by explaining the human nature. Hobbes says that man by nature is selfish, violent, brittle, lustful and greedy. In other words, he has a negative view of human nature. 

State (Condition) of Nature

The state of nature means the circumstances of people when they first arrived on this planet. The following points explain the conditions of people in ancient life:

  • When people were new to this world, they did not have any organization or state. 
  • As a result, there was chaos, violence, war, and injustice. 
  • The life was short and uncertain. 
  • In this state of nature there was only one law and that was might is right. 

Thomas Hobbes says when the state of nature was that bad then people became fed up with this condition. Therefore, for their own selfish interests, they wanted to end these uncertainties and chaos. In order to protect their life and property,  some people got the idea and they convinced others to sign a contract. So due to the violence and uncertainty of the state of nature, the people signed a spoken contract with each other. 

Features of the Contract

According to Thomas Hobbes, they surrender all their rights to a man or assembly of men. That man or assembly of men was the most powerful among them. 

The important points are the following:

  • This contract created a state because in this state a sovereign was created. 
  • State according to Thomas Hobbes is artificial. They have created it for their own interests.
  • This contract is unilateral. It means the people surrendered to their contract themselves. It was not demanded by the ruler.
  • This contract was unconditional. 
  • This contract is not revoked. 


In conclusion, according to Thomas Hobbes's social contract theory, all the powers belong to the King and as per his theory King is not questionable. The right to rule is for the King not for the parliament. Therefore, the King must have all the powers. He is justifying all the powers of the King but not using any religion, instead, he is using the social contract theory to justify the power of the King. 

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