Social philosophy theories deal with the attempts to explain the rationale behind the behavior of societies. They try to account for the forces and factors that led to social formation and cohesion, as well as those that led to social divisions and tensions.

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The American society had been founded and strongly influenced by some social philosophy theories. The social contract theory expounded by the French theorist Jean Jacques Rousseau was among these ideas which left a deep impact on American nation-building and jurisprudence.

According to him, men by nature are selfish and would pursue their interests. However, there is the recognition that conflicts will arise if men are just to blindly pursue their self interests since the blind pursuance of one’s interests may come at a cost of frustrating the interests of the other. Hence, people saw it fit to establish a social contract whereby they would create a government that would protect their rights and liberties and arbitrate between their competing claims.

The government wields an authority higher than any personal authority imposed or commanded by one or a group of individuals within the community. The government establishes a civil ruled by law that is objective and impartial and observed by all.

Another noted thinker is the English empiricist John Locke who also delved into the social contract. He also advocated for the separation of powers between the different branches of the government (Locke, 1689).

This contributed to the evolution of the different, but co-equal and interdependent branches of the government, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary. This is apparent not only in the United States, but also in many republican and democratic countries. For Locke too, revolution against the existing unpopular regime who no longer commands legitimacy and respect from its constituents is warranted under certain circumstances.


Locke, John. (1689). Two Treatises of Civil Government (Hollis ed.). Retrieved June 18, 2009 from

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