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John Locke 1 - University of Arizona lenhart/trad104/slides/John Locke 1.pdf · PDF file John Locke today, Locke is known for his philosophical work. In his day, Locke was also known

Jan 24, 2019

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John Locke

John Locke

today, Locke is known for his philosophical work. In his day, Locke was also known as a physician, a politician and an educator.

Locke is one of the most influential philosophers ever; his work is not only intellectually influential but socially and politically influential as well.

Two Treatises of Government

Goals:To determine the origin of political power.To determine when political power is legitimate.To determine when we have an obligation to obey political power and when we may resist.To refute political authoritarianism.

Two major historical consequences of Two Treatises on Government:

A shift in the political balance of power away from Royalty to elected, divided, conditional authority. The American Revolution

Overview

Locke advances a social contract theory, one that starts from a state of nature and works towards an explanation and justification of government.

Overview

Locke advances a social contract theory, one that starts from a state of nature and works towards an explanation and justification of government.Lockes state of nature is not nearly as bad as Hobbess. Lockes state of nature is better than certain kinds of governments.

Overview

Locke advances a social contract theory, one that starts from a state of nature and works towards an explanation and justification of government.Lockes state of nature is not nearly as bad as Hobbess. Lockes state of nature is better than certain kinds of governments.So on Lockes view, obedience to government is not always justified. Were better off in a state of nature than in certain kinds of government.

The First Treatise on Government

No one ever reads the First Treatise on Government anymore. It was important in it's day, but no one really takes its target seriously anymore, so we don't care as much.

The first Treatise justified an absolute Monarch, and did so by claiming that Adam (of the Bible) was the first king and that all royal authority was similar to his, the authority of a father over his family.

(We don't even think that fathers have this sort of authority anymore.)

1. Hobbes: political power comes from a social contract, and therefore absolutism is justified.

2. Filmer: political power comes from a natural patriarchy, and therefore absolutism is justified.

3. Locke: political power comes from a social contract, but absolutism is not justified; sometimes were obligated to obey, and sometimes were justified in resisting.

In many ways, Locke is more similar to Hobbes than to Filmer.

Locke's State of Nature

Two main features:

Perfect FreedomPerfect Equality

Locke's State of Nature

Perfect Freedom:

"A state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man."

Locke's State of Nature

Perfect Freedom:

"A state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man."Perfect Equality:

"A state also of equality, wherein all the power and justification is reciprocal, no one having more than another without subordination or subjection."

Law of Nature

According to Locke, the Law of Nature constrains us even in the state of nature.

The Law of Nature:Requires us to preserve our selves.

Law of Nature

According to Locke, the Law of Nature constrains us even in the state of nature.

The Law of Nature:Requires us to preserve our selves.Requires us to preserve others.

Law of Nature

According to Locke, the Law of Nature constrains us even in the state of nature.

The Law of Nature:Requires us to preserve our selves.Requires us to preserve others.Forbids harming others in their life, health, liberty, or possessions.

Law of Nature

According to Locke, the Law of Nature constrains us even in the state of nature.

The Law of Nature:Requires us to preserve our selves.Requires us to preserve others.Forbids harming others in their life, health, liberty, or possessions.Forbids impairing the ability of others to pursue their own life, health, liberty, or possessions.

Law of Nature

According to Locke, reason informs us of the law of nature.

Locke's justification of the law of nature is theological: because, according to Locke, we are all created by God, we have a duty to respect one another. Those duties are captured in the law of nature.

Compare: Hobbes's obligations in the state of nature and Locke's obligations in the state of nature.

But...

Locke's state of nature is not paradise or the Garden of Eden.

Despite the fact that in the state of nature, we can be reasonable secure in life, liberty and possessions, the state of nature is less that ideal.

There are still problems.

What sorts of problems do you think these are?

The Problem in the State of Nature

Well, Locke certainly knows that not everything is going to be perfect and not everyone is going to obey the law of nature perfectly. But that isn't the main problem.

Enforcement and execution of the law of nature are the main problems in the state of nature.

Who gets to enforce and execute the law of nature?

The Problem in the State of Nature

Well, Locke certainly knows that not everything is going to be perfect and not everyone is going to obey the law of nature perfectly. But that isn't the main problem.

Enforcement and execution of the law of nature are the main problems in the state of nature.

Who gets to enforce and execute the law of nature?

Well, according to perfect equality, everyone has that right.

Who enforces the law of nature when we are in the state of nature?

Everyone has the right to enforce the law of nature.Everyone has the right to punish transgressions for the sake of reparation and restraint so far as calm reason and conscience dictate.Ones right to enforce the law of nature follows from ones obligation to preserve mankind.

Who enforces the law of nature when we are in the state of nature?

Everyone has the right to enforce the law of nature.Everyone has the right to punish transgressions for the sake of reparation and restraint so far as calm reason and conscience dictate.Ones right to enforce the law of nature follows from ones obligation to preserve mankind.

All of this is fine, until people start to disagree about the finer points of the law and about who did what to whom.