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Social Contract Theories :
Antecedents to Classical Criminology
Recall: Rediscovery of Greek Classics
 Athens literature
Not Virtue though…
What is “rational”?
15th to 16th Centuries….
Natural Science
Shift away from purposive world view
Individualism & wealth
Breaking apart of ‘justice/moral’ from ‘power’
Mercantilism & Causation
Accumulating wealth to
grow in power
The modern pursuit of
power & profit requires
a knowledge of reality
that allows one to make
predictions about future
Modern Instrumental Rationality
Control man/nature through
Law becomes pragmatic:
Nation building
Assumes: we can equally
shape our destiny…
Nature does not produce an
‘end’ (not teological)
Science is a series of facts
Evaluation of facts is still
subjective (myth of
Science attempts to account
for everything as a causal
Remember Margarine?
The problem with prediction…
Also, if one could predict all
events in reality (assuming
perfect causation)…
Is that not a kind of
No autonomy
Social Contract Theories
Theoretical positions that
explain social order in
terms of a persons’
moral and political
obligations, which
depend upon a contract
or agreement among
people to form the
society in which they
Thomas Hobbes (1588 -1679)
Radical Conservative
Leviathan (1651)
Social order is created by humans
Monarchy should have absolute power
state ruling over ‘equals’
Authoritative government &
commodious living
State of Nature:
Natural’ causes of conflict:
1.Limited material possessions
3.Glory (power)
Natural human condition:
“ in a state of perpetual war of all against all”
(Delaney, 2004:3)
No morality & constant fear
Rationality to seek Social Contract
How does this assumption translate temporally?
John Locke (1632 -1704)
Two Treatises on Government
Right to self-preservation through
private property appropriation*
Authority of King: Protection of
people’s property & well being.
 Room for resistance …
Free will restricted only by God;
precedes society & state.
State of Nature:
“perfect and complete liberty to
conduct one’s life as one best
sees fit, free from the
interference of others” (prepolitical, but not pre-moral)
 Peaceful
 Conjugal Society
Power granted to Civil
Government by property
owners and not majority
Money leads to
unequal possession
of Earth
Jean Jaques Rousseau
Social Contract (1762)
“Man was born free, and he is
everywhere in chains” (49).
How can we live together, free from
Through the collective renunciation
of the individual rights and
freedom (“forced to be free”)
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 -1778)
The Social Contract (1762)
Generally peaceful
● Think wilderness
● Few conflicts
● Many resources
Changes with population
growth & civilization
Communities/Leisure time
● Preferences
● conflicts
Rousseau: Ideal Society
Grew in relation to good governance
All members of society have an equal
People are equal to their occupation
No one is above the law
Rejected individual power in favor of
New members should not alter the state to
their advantage
Preservation from conquest
The importance of Social Contract
“Contractual models have come
to inform a vast variety of
relations and interaction
between persons, from
students and their teachers,
to authors and their
Classical Criminology &
Neo-Classical Crime Policy
“…social contract theory is at
least an incomplete picture
of our moral and political
lives, and may in fact
camouflage some of the
ways in which the contract
is itself parasitical upon the
subjugations of classes of
persons.” (Friend,
Ethnocentric View of
Social Order
Group Work???
Thinking Exercise
Think about your relationship to the
university in terms of a social
1. Is it Hobbesian or
Locke/Rousseau inspired (or
2. Critical Thinking
• Break off in groups of 3-5
• Discuss the purpose of the
contract, authority, morality
• Discuss punishment
• How else could it be ordered