Life and times
From middle class roots
Distinguished student, selected to study at Oxford
Begins practicing medicine
Befriends (via surgery) the Earl of Shaftsbury
Anti-Popish intrigue and a life of danger
The state of nature
Governed by laws of nature
This may sound like Hobbes, but Locke builds a rich normative complex into his state of nature
Where Locke differs from Hobbes
In Locke’s state of nature, there are, built into it, normative constraints (e.g., ‘no one ought to harm another’) that we don’t find in Hobbes
This raises serious concerns about the nature of his contractarian argument–in particular its strength
There law in the state of nature
Is exercised by free individuals, each of whom exercise executive power
That is, each has individual has moral authority to take action to rectify injustice, but, according to Locke, such retribution may only fit the crime
(Yet another example of the normative richness of Locke’s state of nature)
The state of nature vs. the state of war
For Locke, a state of nature is when people, of good will, live without a superior authority
That is, the state of nature is a mere privation of legitimate state authority
On the other hand, a state of war is a declared design of force upon another person or persons, where there is no superior authority
According to Locke, Hobbes has confused war with its prerequisite
Foundation of property rights:
The property one has as one’s own body
The labor of that body
Hence anything that one has removed from its natural state and mixed one’s labor with, becomes the property of the person
The right to property, either as an acquisition or as a transfer, is limited by this proviso
In any acquisition, or transfer, or purchase, one’s property is constrained by the requirement that there be ‘as good and enough’ left over
The ends of government
Making a government is tantamount to submitting to majority rule
So what is the end of a government?
The greatest and chief end:
Protecting and preserving property
Why just this?
Guaranteeing property rights
Promotes the rule of law
Promotes dispassionate justice
The extent of legislative power
Power not arbitrary
The executive is subject to the rule of law
No takings without consent
Legislature cannot transfer its power to others
Brief Passage of the Week:
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