Social Contract

Mar 31, 2020 in Sociology Essay

Social Contact Essay Sample

In American society, there are norms and laws that people follow not because they are based on their private opinion, but because they are important for a civil community since it always strives to maintain a common good. Undoubtedly, every person has their private thoughts on particular issues, may it be political or moral; however, according to the theory of social contract, only rational public opinion should prevail to make a civil society benefit from the given rights. The general will of the American society can only be promoted when the voices concerning the public utility are equally heard, and no one suffers from the crimes of others. Thus, an individual who has, therefore, surrendered their freedoms to any higher authority, group, or individual for any moral obligation or goal are in a social contract with the society (Rousseau).

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This notion might be applied to the United States to a certain extent as not every person is willing to obey the social contract. Presently, the fabric of society both morally and politically has been destroyed. People are not concerned with preserving morals but care about their own interests. Many of them are not fulfilling their obligations to society, even under the threat of the death penalty for malicious actions. This has contributed to the fall of many social contracts today. This essay seeks to analyze and determine why the threat of the death penalty is not working for preserving the rights of civil society. The essay indicates what impact it has on modern American society.

 Obviously, social contracts should be reestablished in order to address the needs of every individual in society while protecting the political order. Furthermore, research should be done on the various forms of social contracts that are not performed accurately to understand why they fail and what actions should be taken to restore the faith of the society in the authority.

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The death penalty

The United States aims at establishing a legal system that is free and fair to all. Courts use different forms of punishment to administer justice. The U.S. legal system needs to have laws that are precisely explained and the punishment to be administered fully stated to ensure that every citizen knows his rights and can create his own opinion (Hoggard 3). Because of the lack of such laws, the penalty that caused many controversies and disagreements in state courts is the use of capital punishment. Capital punishment has been used for a long time, even during the colonial period. Currently, only thirty-two states in the United States still practice the death penalty. Capital punishment is continuously opposed and considered a failure in a social contract. 

Capital punishment was used in many nations around the world to support a social contract between people before some governments decided to abolish it as a form of injustice. However, some states in the U.S. still use the death sentence in their courts to punish inmates who have committed vicious crimes against society, for example, murder or rape. The death penalty is administered through executions or lethal injections. Capital punishment is viewed as the transfer of one’s right of life to the state. It means that the power is allowed to decide if people can live or not since they are considered public enemies of the state (Dagger 360). To the family and friends of the affected, capital punishment is seen as a form of justice since the criminals are removed from society promoting public security. However, this form of punishment is questioned as a fail in social contract since it is very hard to separate freedom and security in any democratic society (Reichel).

Why it is failing

The death penalty is not effective because it only increases the bitterness of the affected families and destroys social contract. Due to the fact that taking an individual's life is a violation of the constitutional right because everyone is entitled to the right of life, the decision of giving a verdict of a death sentence is considered cruel. 

 In addition, the cost of capital punishment is ten times higher as compared to life imprisonment (United Nations 45). The costs cover lengthy investigations, trials, and continuous appeals from plaintiffs. Before any verdict is delivered, the court should have sufficient and undisputed evidence that the accused did commit a crime. After, they should also consider a further application made by the accused in order to make a final verdict unbiased and accurate.

In most societies around the world, the death penalty might be regarded as discrimination against certain groups, including the poor and other members of certain races, ethnic, and religious communities. This motivated many people to change their views on this form of justice as a part of a social contract. Thus, the governments are forced to use less harsh punishment. It shows that the death penalty should not be considered as a way to maintain a civil society. On the contrary, it might bring another result. Consequently, the public tends to fight against this type of punishment.

Moreover, capital punishment is considered a fail in social contracts since it violates the rights of an individual protected under the constitution. Execution of anyone despite their crimes is considered to be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. This questions how morally right the punishment is and proves that the punishment does not change criminal behavior but deprives an individual of their rights. Human rights activist groups argue that the state has no right to execute anyone under the notion of eliminating danger in society (Dagger 347). 


We are obliged to obey powers that are considered legitimate and above our authority. This has contributed to a form of the social contract between the citizen of a nation and the legal system. However, the use of capital punishment in the United States is not the best form of punishment since it has been viewed as a form of injustice and contrary to human rights. The states can, therefore, introduce other forms of punishment that are considered fair and just.

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