Both the early modern thinkers John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau formulated their own accounts on the state of nature, forming the basis for much of the political theory that was forwarded by both these early modern philosophers. Each man proposed developments in their account of the state of nature, subsequently showcasing the differences in their thoughts and consequences each attracted by these proposals.
Phrases such as "natural law" have been used over the centuries to designate a remarkably persistent doctrine concerning the moral basis of law. This ethical law is grounded in "nature", and the various interpretations that have been placed on this word have generated the principal transformations through which natural-law theory has passed. Certain categories of natural law include: physical laws and laws of conduct, one's nature and one's end, nature and reason and finally the state of nature.
With the reduction of the metaphysic that accompanied natural-law theory, the theory itself created another sense of "nature". Subsequently. natural law increasingly associated itself with the state of nature, a term meaning "a prehistoric or presocietal phase of human development". Thinkers may differ on whether this natural law was observed in the state of nature or merely recognised and respected, but an association between the two can be witnessed in the writings of both Locke and Rousseau.
John Locke (1632-1704) is a predominant figure in the history of political philosophy. His Two Treatise On Civil Government (1689) showcases his political philosophy, with which he examines with great attention the subject of the state of nature. According to Locke's definition of the state of nature; man in all his forms is bound to "preserve peace, preserve mankind and refrain from hurt to one another". .
Locke refers to the state of nature as the foundation for his social contract, as it is simply an idea explaining the purpose of a civil government.