The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.
Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 March 2023

state of nature. 

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
Ronald D. MiloRonald D. Milo

This notion was employed by social contract theorists to indicate the condition of human beings prior to or without government. By showing what was lacking in this natural condition, or state of nature, they hoped to demonstrate the benefits of politically organized society and the rationality of accepting governmental authority. The state of nature was characterized by certain deficiencies for which government was said to be the proper remedy. It is therefore rational for individuals to pull themselves out of this condition by agreeing among themselves to accept some form of political authority. However, social contract theorists differed sharply with one another about what kind of government provides the best remedy, and this disagreement stems largely from how each characterizes the state of nature. ... ...

Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.