Social contract theory

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Social contract theory jurisprudence was influential in the 17th and early 18th centuries, at a time when there was a good deal of debate about what made it acceptable for a king to make laws to command the obedience of free men. Probably the earliest writer to articulate such a theory was Thomas Hobbes; he argued that kings are, of themselves, no better than ordinary men, and their rule has no intrinsic legitimacy. However, in order to improve the quality of life for everyone, the bulk of people would voluntarily surrender a measure of their personal freedom to their rulers, in return for 'rganization and protection. In Hobbes' theory, the requirement for people to obey laws was part of the contract between rulers and ruled, and was legitimate to the extent that those laws were to the benefit of society.