Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are two of the greatest philosophers of social contract theory. A social contract is an act by which individuals agree to form a government. According to social contract theory, governments are established by the people who unite to achieve some goal. The contract essentially binds people into a community that exists for mutual preservation. Hobbes and Rousseau hypothesize the existence of a "state of nature" prior to any government, civilization, and laws. .
In the state of nature, absolute freedom prevails and justice is unattainable. There are no laws and no standards. Everyone lives by their own set of rules and their own self-interest, rather than the whole of society. In order to avoid suffering injury, people need to make social contracts with each other by which they give up injustice and practice justice. Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract, describes this notion in detail and outlines their theories for social contract. However, Hobbes and Rousseau have different views regarding the state of nature and have disparate theories regarding social contract. Although Thomas Hobbes was a predominant influence on the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a social contract theorist, their ideas regarding social contract theory are exceptionally different.
In his book, Leviathan, Hobbes portrays the natural condition of mankind, known as the "state of nature," as inherently violent and encompassed with fear. Hobbes further claims that the state of nature is the "war of every man against every man," in which people constantly aim to destroy each other in a continual quest for power (Tuck, 1996). Hobbes believes that people are inherently evil, thus they continually step on everyone else's rights. The state of nature contains no government, civilization, or laws to restrain human nature consequently no "security of life, liberty, or property" (Tuck, 1996).