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Write a 2–3-page essay on a selected issue related to the tension between individual freedom and social institutions.


Write a 2–3-page essay on a selected issue related to the tension between individual freedom and social institutions.

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies

· Competency 1: Explain the nature of ethical issues.

. Explain the ethical basis for the relation of individuals to their government.

· Competency 2: Critically examine the contributions of key thinkers from the history of ethics. 

. Describe the social contract theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.

· Competency 3: Engage in ethical debate. 

. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of these theories as they relate to a selected issue. 

· Competency 4: Develop a position on a contemporary ethical issue. 

. Apply traditional social contract theories to a selected contemporary issue.

· Competency 5: Communicate effectively in the context of personal and professional moral discourse. 

. Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations for members of professional communities.


Another dose of ethical theory, focused this time on social organization. Several political philosophers have explained the foundation of governmental authority in terms of a fictional social contract:

· Hobbes 

· Individuals are purely selfish, so they naturally exist in a state of war with all

· In self-defense, we join together under the authority of a sovereign who rules

· Locke 

· In nature, rational agents have equal right to enforce the natural law

· For protection of “life, liberty, and property” we consent to be governed

· (Notice the influence of this approach on founders of the United States.)

· Rousseau 

· We are born free, so any agreement to join together is purely voluntary

· Each individual freely chooses to serve the “general will,” the welfare of all

Present-day nations exhibit a variety of social organizations:

· Authoritarian: absolute power in a single dictator who imposes power over everyone

· Elitist: a small group rules for all, based on birth family, wealth, or merit

· Democratic: everyone participates in governance, usually by electing representatives

Under any form of government, the fundamental question is how much freedom individual citizens retain in the face of legitimate authority. If we accept the need for some protection of the public good, we must submit in some circumstances, but each of us wishes to pursue our own choices within that broad framework.

With respect for justice, we allow the law to prevent us from harming each other, but otherwise we like to be left alone.

Questions to consider

o deepen your understanding, you are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of the business community.

As you think about the theme “freedom and authority,” consider addressing the following questions:

· Which version of social contract theory offers the best understanding of your issue?

· How much individual freedom is compatible with the legitimate authority of government?

· What solution do you defend for the issue you have selected?


Suggested Resources

The following optional resources are provided to support you in completing the assessment or to provide a helpful context. For additional resources, refer to the Research Resources and Supplemental Resources in the left navigation menu of your courseroom.


· Hobbes, T. (2001).  Leviathan . South Bend, IN: Infomotions, Inc. 

. Parts I and II. 

· Cudd, A., & Eftekhari, S. (2017). Contractarianism. Stanfield Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from 

. Pages 1–11.

· Kemerling, G. (2011). Hobbes’s Leviathan. The Philosophy Pages. Available from 

. Pages 1–3.

· Lloyd, S. A., & Sreedhar, S. (2018). Hobbes’s moral and political philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from 

. Pages 1–8.

· Williams, G. (n.d.). Thomas Hobbes: Moral and political philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy?. Retrieved from 

. Pages 1–18.


· Locke, J., & Cox, R. H. (Ed.). (1982).  Second treatise of government . Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson.

· Kemerling, G. (2011). Locke: Social order. Philosophy Pages. Available from 

. Pages 1–4.

· Moseley, A. (n.d.). John Locke: Political philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from 

. Pages 1–37.

· Tuckness, A. (2016). Locke’s political philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from 

. Pages 1–19.


· Wraight, C. D. (2008).  Rousseau’s the social contract: A reader’s guide . London, UK: Continuum.

· Bertram, C. (2010, September 27). Jean Jacques Rousseau. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from 

. Pages 1–20.

· Delaney, J. J. (n.d.). Jean-Jacques Rousseau: 4. The social contract. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from  

. Pages 11–12.

· Kemerling, G. (2011). Rousseau. Philosophy Pages. Available from 

. Pages 1–3.

· Social Contract Theory.

Individual Freedom

· Skillsoft. (n.d.). Overcoming your own unconscious biases [Tutorial]

. The systemic influence of cultural presumptions often infringes upon individual freedom. Use this Skillsoft video to explore the biases to which we may be susceptible.

. Running time: 22:00.

· Skillsoft. (n.d.). Influence others with political savvy [Tutorial].

. This Skillsoft tutorial describes some workplace opportunities to deal with the potential conflict between collective limitations on individual freedom.

. Running time: 22:00.

Ethical Controversy

· NBC Learn. (n.d.). EPA head Scott Pruitt faces growing ethics controversy [Video]

. In this video, you will see an example of ethical standards in government.

. Running time: 01:33.

· NBC Learn. (n.d). Arizona governor poised to veto anti-gay bill? [Video]

. In this video, you will see an example of governmental infringement on individual rights.

. Running time: 03:09.

General Education Information Research Skills Library Guide

A Capella University library guide has been created for your use in General Education courses. The General Education Information Research Skills Library Guide contains tips on how to use the Capella University Library to find resources for your General Education courses. You are encouraged to refer to the resources in this library guide to direct your research in this course.

Note: This Program Guide supports the Essential Undergraduate Learning Outcome of Information Literacy.

Assessment Instructions

Assessment Overview

Political philosophy concerns itself with the formation and maintenance of civil societies. Its central theme is the need to explain the relationship between individual human beings and their governments. You have been considering several specific examples of the tension between individual freedom and social institutions. From among those examples, you have chosen one as the focus for your own views on freedom and authority.

Assessment Instructions

Your assessment is to write an essay assessing the issue you selected, both in terms of versions of social contract theory proposed by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau and from your own view of the proper relation between society and the individual.

Address the following concepts in your essay:

1. Explain the ethical basis for the relation of individuals to their government

2. Describe the theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau about how societies are organized.

3. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the theories in justifying the imposition of authority over individuals.

4. Apply these social contract theories to the issue you have selected.

Your instructor may provide video feedback on your work, as well as completing the official scoring guide for the assessment.

Assessment Requirements

· Written communication: Ensure written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.

· APA formatting: Format resources and citations according to current APA style guidelines.

· Number of resources: Use your judgment to ensure your topic is thoroughly researched. There is no minimum number of resources required, however.

· Length of paper: Submit 2–3 typed, double-spaced pages.

· Font and font size: Use Arial, 12-point font.


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