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Writing an Argumentative Essay: Taking a Stance on Social Contract

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When writing an argumentative essay, first of all, you need to pick a side. After that it is essential to formulate a compelling thesis statement that would validate your point. As you might have guessed, you would then need to present the arguments that corroborate your thesis, preferably in the order of importance. In the conclusion, you would need to rehash your thesis and one more time list the most central evidence to support it.

When choosing a stance, ensure that you have enough credible and reliable evidence. It is critical that you avoid utilizing emotional language and stick to a neutral, professional, although forceful tone. If you feel you do not have enough evidence, stop and do research, or reconsider your thesis altogether.

It is crucial to shed light on alternative opinions in objections. When presenting those objections, you need to show the reasoning behind them. Only after revealing the rationale behind those divergent opinions, can you start to prove that your thesis is more grounded. In an argumentative essay you need to be chivalrous and steadfast at the same time. You need to show respect for alternatives, but remain unwavering in your convictions.

In this article, I will try to show you how to compose a persuasive argumentative essay on the topic of social contract. Social contract encompasses a variety of different views with those of Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau being the most notable ones. In this article, I will focus on them. I will, however, try to advocate for the ideas of Jean Jacques Rousseau in particular because they are the closest to me.

On the State of Nature

When examining the idea of social contract, it would probably make sense to start with the opposite – the state of nature. In social contract people agree to relinquish some of their freedoms to state for the sake of protection. In the state of nature people are free to determine the boundaries of their rights on their own. In the state of nature there was no civil society, and people were more or less equal.

Here you could mention that Jean Jacques Rousseau idealized the state of nature and even coined the term “noble savages.” You may state that social contract corrupted people turning them from sympathetic and cooperative humans into wild beasts. It is commendable if you employ examples from Rousseau’s own writing on indigenous people or Ancien Regime in France to prove your point. This will give your argument more weight.

As a counter argument you can elucidate the opinion of Thomas Hobbes who despised the state of nature. He believed that people were brutal and unruly then, and they needed social contract to keep them in control. Make sure not to sound sarcastic or condescending outlining a point of view you are about to crush.

To contradict Hobbes, you can refer to many examples from history where power corrupted an individual. The most notable one I can think off the top of my head if the French Revolution, where the revolutionaries were kind of noble savages, but once they got the real authority, they went to invent a guillotine. Use concrete examples, preferably from history and not your personal life. Be authoritative, but not overly emotional.

On the Leader

Jean Jacques Rousseau was against any kind of hierarchy and despised authority. No wonder his ideas later served as a foundation for communism. However, do not mention the last bit. In view of the historical events it is not an argument in your favor.

Thomas Hobbes was a staunch advocate of the monarchy. He believed that people need a leader – a Leviathan that is going to preclude them from destroying each other. Hobbes was sure that people were inherently evil and needed to be subdued to a higher authority.

He asserted that humans should not enjoy extensive rights, only a right to defend themselves in case their life is in danger. Moreover, Hobbes blamed people for this seemingly unjust system, as the social contract is needed only because of their own vile nature.

It is actually very easy to disprove this idea. There are plenty of historical examples that show different evidence – just take the history of the USSR or North Korea as a more contemporary example. You can also talk about how Hobbes was very subjective in his judgment as his views were greatly impacted by the English civil war which was a devastating result of not obeying to the monarch.

On Education

Both philosophers emphasized the importance of education. However, their attitudes differed, just like with the previous examples.

Jean Jacques Rousseau underlined the significance of upbringing. He believed that children were born kind like noble savages in the state of nature, but the more they integrated into society, the more it corrupted them. Therefore, in his view children had to receive a proper upbringing that would vaccinate them against society flaws.

Thomas Hobbes, on the other side, believed that people were innately bad. So, he highlighted the urgency of morality learning as one of the key factors in children education. Hobbes believed that children should be raised in respect to the monarch and the authority. He was confident that only with morals instilled young could society develop harmoniously.

Here you can, of course, mention many revolutionaries or people with unconventional morals who changed the course of history for the better. For instance, Socrates was reviled for having dangerous and odious ideas that could corrupt the young minds.

On Religion

Thomas Hobbes believed that monarchy was more important than religion. He emphasized the importance of obeying the authority on Earth regardless of what religion dictates.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, although emphasizing religious tolerance, stated that there must be common values that every citizen needs to share. He did not advocate for Christianity per se, but did not present himself as an atheist like many of his enlightened colleagues did.

Religion has always been a very contentious matter. Here I would recommend you being especially careful and sensitive. Some people may be offended by your views, even if you manage to prove your point.

The Last Words of Guidance

No matter what your topic is, writing an argumentative essay is a fine job. You do not want to be emotional, but at the same time you want to sound persuasive. You want to give credit to other ideas, but you do not want to seem uncertain. There are many fine lines you need to walk.

In short, pick something you are passionate about and find enough evidence. Do not slant the truth; present both the arguments and the objections faithfully. The best argumentative essay is not the one that presents the thesis in the best light. It is the one that operates the best facts to debunk the objections.

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