The “Social Contract Theory” is a theory that without the unofficial introduction of morals of right and wrong, we would all be living in a world worse than that our homo-erectus ancestors inhabited in such a way that there would be no “we” but just our self interest in the desire to survive. There would be no groups, no tools, and no interactions other than that of violence (such as rape and murder), but just pain, fear, bloody coconuts, and waiting for life to end by yourself in a dark hole.
This world that today we would call “savage” is just the possible reality called “The State of Nature” that we would have to live in without the Social Contract. In the State of Nature, let us just assume that everyone in this world is dropped into this alternate world, all of our memories of who we are and human contact is wiped from our minds, and all we can think is “survive. ” Well, according to any survival state, we need shelter and sustenance, and assuming that one is satisfied with taking shelter in a tree, the first thing we would do is look for is food.
Unfortunately for you, there are many others looking for food as well, and just like you, they don’t care about others and just want the food. Now imagine you are walking through a forest, stomach growling, and all of a sudden you find a small pond that is full of fish, just ripe for the taking. You easily catch a few fish and start cooking them over a fire, but sadly you’re destined not to ever enjoy your bounty because just then Ted the psychopath jumps on your back, pushing your face into the burning flames, cackling while he bashes the back of your skull in with his trusty coconut and then eats your fish.
So there you are, your measly existence in the State of Nature has come to a gruesome end because there are no rules to say “Hey, Ted shouldn’t do that! ” because that is life in the State of Nature. Now, thanks to the extreme amount of death, some people have decided to not kill each other, but rather band together to defend themselves from Ted. Now, this action of joining together is the first basic form of the “Social Contract” as they agree not to just randomly kill one another but focus on killing Ted.
After all is said and done, Ted has been killed and his stash of all his bloodied goods just lays there in front of the group of people. Now, they could all turn on each other and have an all-out for the last survivor to claim everything, but NO! They realize that they worked well together and that their best chance at survival is to stick together! But how do they divide up Ted’s stuff? Somebody brings up Fred because he is good with numbers, so he is chosen to divide up everything.
After all that is done with, the group sticks together, catching animals, picking fruits, and having Fred divide it all up amongst the group so everyone has something. As the group grows (whether it be by birth or others joining), they all agree to the Social Contract to help each other, all listening to Fred who has become their leader in a way. Due to the group agreeing to follow the directions of Fred the leader, the idea of “Popular Sovereignty” has come around thanks to the form of leadership or Government of Fred.
You see, Fred tells the people what to do, and they all agree due to the common idea that Fred is the one in charge. Popular Sovereignty is important because without the common idea or agreement, the social contract would fail and we would all resort back to the State of Nature, and thus the world has become “The World of Teds! ” So to Re-Cap State of Nature: An all-out blood fest where everyone is all on their own.
Getting Out: We get out of the State of Nature by joining together for the common goal to survive. Social Contract: The agreement not to kill each other or the introduction of right and wrong. It’s significant because it’s the only way we get out and survive the SoN. Popular Sovereignty: The common idea of the group. The agreement of the people to form a leadership/government. It’s important because if everyone disagreed, and without a leader to keep us in check, we would just revert back to violence.