State of Nature

Discipline: Political Science

Theory frequently employed in conjunction with that of a social contract.

Before the formation of society or of states, people lived in a state of nature which has been variously characterized as utopian or brutal. Government is then a damaging limitation of primal innocence, or a necessary check on original depravity.

David Miller et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford 1987)


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