john locke political philosophy essay

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To be able to intrigue a reader, the most important thing is to have great characters. Characters should live, feel, express, and act like real people to be seen as genuine. A great way to get to know your characters is to ask questions about them and answer as honestly as possible from their perspective. Use as many or as few as you want and get to know your characters more closely. Use the questions as you would in an interview. I personally find this easier to get into the heads of my characters. What is your full name?

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John locke political philosophy essay

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It is one thing, he argues, for a person to consent by actions rather than words; it is quite another to claim a person has consented without being aware that they have done so. To require a person to leave behind all of their property and emigrate in order to avoid giving tacit consent is to create a situation where continued residence is not a free and voluntary choice.

Hannah Pitkin takes a very different approach. Tacit consent is indeed a watering down of the concept of consent, but Locke can do this because the basic content of what governments are to be like is set by natural law and not by consent. Pitkin, however, thinks that for Locke the form and powers of government are determined by natural law. What really matters, therefore, is not previous acts of consent but the quality of the present government, whether it corresponds to what natural law requires.

Locke does not think, for example, that walking the streets or inheriting property in a tyrannical regime means we have consented to that regime. It is thus the quality of the government, not acts of actual consent, that determine whether a government is legitimate. Simmons objects to this interpretation, saying that it fails to account for the many places where Locke does indeed say a person acquires political obligations only by his own consent.

John Dunn takes a still different approach. Simmons objects that this ignores the instances where Locke does talk about consent as a deliberate choice and that, in any case, it would only make Locke consistent at the price of making him unconvincing. Recent scholarship has continued to probe these issues. Only those who have expressly consented are members of political society, while the government exercises legitimate authority over various types of people who have not so consented. The government is supreme in some respects, but there is no sovereign.

The former is more plausibly interpreted as an act of affirmative consent to be a member of a political society. Registering to vote, as opposed to actually voting, would be a contemporary analogue. Van der Vossen makes a related argument, claiming that the initial consent of property owners is not the mechanism by which governments come to rule over a particular territory. Rather, Locke thinks that people probably fathers initially simply begin exercising political authority and people tacitly consent.

This tacit consent is sufficient to justify a rudimentary state that rules over the consenters. Treaties between these governments would then fix the territorial borders. Hoff goes still further, arguing that we need not even think of specific acts of tacit consent such as deciding not to emigrate as necessary for generating political obligation.

Instead, consent is implied if the government itself functions in ways that show it is answerable to the people. A related question has to do with the extent of our obligation once consent has been given. The interpretive school influenced by Strauss emphasizes the primacy of preservation. Since the duties of natural law apply only when our preservation is not threatened Two Treatises 2.

This has important implications if we consider a soldier who is being sent on a mission where death is extremely likely. Grant points out that Locke believes a soldier who deserts from such a mission 2. Grant takes Locke to be claiming not only that desertion laws are legitimate in the sense that they can be blamelessly enforced something Hobbes would grant but that they also imply a moral obligation on the part of the soldier to give up his life for the common good something Hobbes would deny.

According to Grant, Locke thinks that our acts of consent can, in fact, extend to cases where living up to our commitments will risk our lives. The decision to enter political society is a permanent one for precisely this reason: the society will have to be defended and if people can revoke their consent to help protect it when attacked, the act of consent made when entering political society would be pointless since the political community would fail at the very point where it is most needed.

People make a calculated decision when they enter society, and the risk of dying in combat is part of that calculation. Grant also thinks Locke recognizes a duty based on reciprocity since others risk their lives as well. A different approach asks what role consent plays in determining, here and now, the legitimate ends that governments can pursue.

One part of this debate is captured by the debate between Seliger and Kendall , the former viewing Locke as a constitutionalist and the latter viewing him as giving almost unlimited power to majorities.

On the former interpretation, a constitution is created by the consent of the people as part of the creation of the commonwealth. On the latter interpretation, the people create a legislature which rules by majority vote. A third view, advanced by Tuckness a , holds that Locke was flexible at this point and gave people considerable flexibility in constitutional drafting.

A second part of the debate focuses on ends rather than institutions. Locke states in the Two Treatises that the power of the Government is limited to the public good. Libertarians like Nozick read this as stating that governments exist only to protect people from infringements on their rights. On this second reading, government is limited to fulfilling the purposes of natural law, but these include positive goals as well as negative rights.

On this view, the power to promote the common good extends to actions designed to increase population, improve the military, strengthen the economy and infrastructure, and so on, provided these steps are indirectly useful to the goal of preserving the society. In arguing this, Locke was disagreeing with Samuel Pufendorf Samuel Pufendorf had argued strongly that the concept of punishment made no sense apart from an established positive legal structure. Locke realized that the crucial objection to allowing people to act as judges with power to punish in the state of nature was that such people would end up being judges in their own cases.

Locke readily admitted that this was a serious inconvenience and a primary reason for leaving the state of nature Two Treatises 2. Locke insisted on this point because it helped explain the transition into civil society. The power to punish in the state of nature is thus the foundation for the right of governments to use coercive force.

The situation becomes more complex, however, if we look at the principles which are to guide punishment. Rationales for punishment are often divided into those that are forward-looking and backward-looking. Forward-looking rationales include deterring crime, protecting society from dangerous persons, and rehabilitation of criminals.

Backward-looking rationales normally focus on retribution, inflicting on the criminal harm comparable to the crime. Locke may seem to conflate these two rationales in passages like the following:. Locke talks both of retribution and of punishing only for reparation and restraint.

Simmons argues that this is evidence that Locke is combining both rationales for punishment in his theory. In the passage quoted above, Locke is saying that the proper amount of punishment is the amount that will provide restitution to injured parties, protect the public, and deter future crime.

Even in the state of nature, a primary justification for punishment is that it helps further the positive goal of preserving human life and human property. The emphasis on deterrence, public safety, and restitution in punishments administered by the government mirrors this emphasis.

A second puzzle regarding punishment is the permissibility of punishing internationally. Locke describes international relations as a state of nature, and so in principle, states should have the same power to punish breaches of the natural law in the international community that individuals have in the state of nature.

This would legitimize, for example, punishment of individuals for war crimes or crimes against humanity even in cases where neither the laws of the particular state nor international law authorize punishment. The most common interpretation has thus been that the power to punish internationally is symmetrical with the power to punish in the state of nature.

Tuckness a , however, has argued that there is an asymmetry between the two cases because Locke also talks about states being limited in the goals that they can pursue. Locke often says that the power of the government is to be used for the protection of the rights of its own citizens, not for the rights of all people everywhere Two Treatises 1.

Locke argues that in the state of nature a person is to use the power to punish to preserve his society, which is mankind as a whole. After states are formed, however, the power to punish is to be used for the benefit of his own particular society. In the state of nature, a person is not required to risk his life for another Two Treatises 2. Locke may therefore be objecting to the idea that soldiers can be compelled to risk their lives for altruistic reasons.

In the state of nature, a person could refuse to attempt to punish others if doing so would risk his life and so Locke reasons that individuals may not have consented to allow the state to risk their lives for altruistic punishment of international crimes. Locke claims that legitimate government is based on the idea of separation of powers.

First and foremost of these is the legislative power. Locke describes the legislative power as supreme Two Treatises 2. The legislature is still bound by the law of nature and much of what it does is set down laws that further the goals of natural law and specify appropriate punishments for them 2.

The executive power is then charged with enforcing the law as it is applied in specific cases. Since countries are still in the state of nature with respect to each other, they must follow the dictates of natural law and can punish one another for violations of that law in order to protect the rights of their citizens. The fact that Locke does not mention the judicial power as a separate power becomes clearer if we distinguish powers from institutions.

Powers relate to functions. To have a power means that there is a function such as making the laws or enforcing the laws that one may legitimately perform. When Locke says that the legislative is supreme over the executive, he is not saying that parliament is supreme over the king. Moreover, Locke thinks that it is possible for multiple institutions to share the same power; for example, the legislative power in his day was shared by the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the King.

Since all three needed to agree for something to become law, all three are part of the legislative power 1. He also thinks that the federative power and the executive power are normally placed in the hands of the executive, so it is possible for the same person to exercise more than one power or function. There is, therefore, no one-to-one correspondence between powers and institutions Tuckness a. Locke is not opposed to having distinct institutions called courts, but he does not see interpretation as a distinct function or power.

For Locke, legislation is primarily about announcing a general rule stipulating what types of actions should receive what types of punishments. The executive power is the power to make the judgments necessary to apply those rules to specific cases and administer force as directed by the rule Two Treatises 2. Both of these actions involve interpretation. In other words, the executive must interpret the laws in light of its understanding of natural law. Similarly, legislation involves making the laws of nature more specific and determining how to apply them to particular circumstances 2.

Locke did not think of interpreting law as a distinct function because he thought it was a part of both the legislative and executive functions Tuckness a. It is more the terminology than the concepts that have changed. Locke considered arresting a person, trying a person, and punishing a person as all part of the function of executing the law rather than as a distinct function Tuckness a.

Locke believed that it was important that the legislative power contain an assembly of elected representatives, but as we have seen the legislative power could contain monarchical and aristocratic elements as well. Locke was more concerned that the people have representatives with sufficient power to block attacks on their liberty and attempts to tax them without justification. This is important because Locke also affirms that the community remains the real supreme power throughout.

This can happen for a variety of reasons. The entire society can be dissolved by a successful foreign invasion 2. If the rule of law is ignored, if the representatives of the people are prevented from assembling, if the mechanisms of election are altered without popular consent, or if the people are handed over to a foreign power, then they can take back their original authority and overthrow the government 2. They can also rebel if the government attempts to take away their rights 2.

Locke thinks this is justifiable since oppressed people will likely rebel anyway, and those who are not oppressed will be unlikely to rebel. Moreover, the threat of possible rebellion makes tyranny less likely to start with 2. For all these reasons, while there are a variety of legitimate constitutional forms, the delegation of power under any constitution is understood to be conditional. Prerogative is the right of the executive to act without explicit authorization for a law, or even contrary to the law, in order to better fulfill the laws that seek the preservation of human life.

A king might, for example, order that a house be torn down in order to stop a fire from spreading throughout a city Two Treatises 2. Locke handles this by explaining that the rationale for this power is that general rules cannot cover all possible cases and that inflexible adherence to the rules would be detrimental to the public good and that the legislature is not always in session to render a judgment 2.

The relationship between the executive and the legislature depends on the specific constitution. If, however, the chief executive has a veto, the result would be a stalemate between them. Locke describes a similar stalemate in the case where the chief executive has the power to call parliament and can thus prevent it from meeting by refusing to call it into session. Locke assumes that people, when they leave the state of nature, create a government with some sort of constitution that specifies which entities are entitled to exercise which powers.

Locke also assumes that these powers will be used to protect the rights of the people and to promote the public good. In cases where there is a dispute between the people and the government about whether the government is fulfilling its obligations, there is no higher human authority to which one can appeal. The only appeal left, for Locke, is the appeal to God. His central claims are that government should not use force to try to bring people to the true religion and that religious societies are voluntary organizations that have no right to use coercive power over their own members or those outside their group.

One recurring line of argument that Locke uses is explicitly religious. Locke argues that neither the example of Jesus nor the teaching of the New Testament gives any indication that force is a proper way to bring people to salvation. He also frequently points out what he takes to be clear evidence of hypocrisy, namely that those who are so quick to persecute others for small differences in worship or doctrine are relatively unconcerned with much more obvious moral sins that pose an even greater threat to their eternal state.

In addition to these and similar religious arguments, Locke gives three reasons that are more philosophical in nature for barring governments from using force to encourage people to adopt religious beliefs Works — This argument resonates with the structure of argument used so often in the Two Treatises to establish the natural freedom and equality of mankind. There is no command in the Bible telling magistrates to bring people to the true faith, and people could not consent to such a goal for government because it is not possible for people, at will, to believe what the magistrate tells them to believe.

Their beliefs are a function of what they think is true, not what they will. Many of the magistrates of the world believe religions that are false. If force is indirectly useful in bringing people to the true faith, then Locke has not provided a persuasive argument. Waldron pointed out that this argument blocks only one particular reason for persecution, not all reasons.

Thus it would not stop someone who used religious persecution for some end other than religious conversion, such as preserving the peace. Tuckness b and Tate argue that Locke deemphasized the rationality argument in his later writings. Susan Mendus , for example, notes that successful brainwashing might cause a person to sincerely utter a set of beliefs, but that those beliefs might still not count as genuine.

Beliefs induced by coercion might be similarly problematic. Paul Bou Habib argues that what Locke is really after is sincere inquiry and that Locke thinks inquiry undertaken only because of duress is necessarily insincere. A person who has good reason to think he will not change his beliefs even when persecuted has good reason to prevent the persecution scenario from ever happening. Richard Vernon argues that we want not only to hold right beliefs, but also to hold them for the right reasons.

Since the balance of reasons rather than the balance of force should determine our beliefs, we would not consent to a system in which irrelevant reasons for belief might influence us. Richard Tate argues that the strongest argument of Locke for toleration is rooted in the fact that we do not consent to giving government authority in this area, only the promotion of our secular interests, interests that Locke thought a policy of toleration would further. Still other commentators focus on the third argument, that the magistrate might be wrong.

The two most promising lines of argument are the following. Wootton argues that there are very good reasons, from the standpoint of a given individual, for thinking that governments will be wrong about which religion is true. Governments are motivated by the quest for power, not truth, and are unlikely to be good guides in religious matters. Wootton thus takes Locke to be showing that it is irrational, from the perspective of the individual, to consent to government promotion of religion.

A different interpretation of the third argument is presented by Tuckness. He argues that the likelihood that the magistrate may be wrong generates a principle of toleration based on what is rational from the perspective of a legislator, not the perspective of an individual citizen or ruler. Instead, he emphasized human fallibility and the need for universal principles.

His attack on innate ideas increases the importance of giving children the right sort of education to help them get the right sorts of ideas. Ideally, these social norms will reinforce natural law and thus help stabilize political society. This context means that the book assumes a person of relative wealth who will be overseeing the education of his son. The book was extremely popular and went through numerous editions in the century after its publication.

Cultivating this desire helps the child learn to hold in check other harmful desires, such as the desire for dominion, and to learn to control impulses by not acting on them until after reflecting on them. Locke encourages parents to tightly regulate the social environments of children to avoid children being corrupted by the wrong ideas and influences.

Locke hopes for children who have internalized strong powers of self-denial and a work ethic that will make them compliant in an emerging modern economy. There are reasons for thinking that, under normal circumstances, the law of nature and the law of reputation will coincide with each other, minimizing the potential harms that come from people following the law of reputation Stuart-Buttle Much depends on whether one thinks conformity with natural law decreases or increases freedom.

While it is true that Locke recognizes the social nature of the Lockean subject, Locke does not think habituation and autonomy are necessarily opposed Koganzon , Nazar Because human beings naturally conform to the prevailing norms in their society, in the absence of a Lockean education people would not be more free because they would simply conform to those norms. Locke also assumes that the isolation of early childhood will end and that adolescent children will normally think differently from their parents Koganzon In fact, Locke may even use custom to help people rationally evaluate their customary prejudices Grant The editors would like to thank Sally Ferguson for pointing out a number of typographical and other infelicitous errors in this entry.

Natural Law and Natural Rights 2. State of Nature 3. Property 4. Consent, Political Obligation, and the Ends of Government 5. Locke and Punishment 6. Separation of Powers and the Dissolution of Government 7. Toleration 8. Locke may seem to conflate these two rationales in passages like the following: And thus in the state of nature, one Man comes by a power over another, but yet no absolute or arbitrary Power, to use a criminal when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will, but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictates, what is proportionate to his transgression, which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint.

For these two are the only reasons, why one man may lawfully do harm to another, which is that [which] we call punishment. Two Treatises 2. At Oxford, Locke studied medicine, assisting in the laboratory… [Read More]. Because everyone is born equal and free, any form of rule over an individual requires his consent to be legitimate.

Society thus originates from a social contract. The purpose of forming and submitting to government is to secure the individual rights to life, liberty, and property. Unlike Hobbes, Locke believes that citizens cannot fully give up their authority to judge whether government is so infringing on their rights that it is acting tyrannically and must be opposed.

This formulation of natural rights and tyranny would become especially influential in the American Revolution.

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Ashley told John to come to London with him in the household of Exeter House. Anthony Ashley Cooper stood for constitutional monarchy, a protestant succession, and civil liberty. By John had became a fellow of the Royal Society. In Locke went to France for several years. Once he return to England only a for a few years. The political has changed so much when John was in France for years.

Even though is was still not publish Later John Locke came to be seen, alongside his friend Newton, as an embodiment of Enlightenment values and ideals. Newtonian science lay bare on working on nature and lead to important technological advances. Locke also came to be seen as an inspiration for the Deist movement.

John Locke is often recognized as the founder of British Empiricism and John Locke laid the foundation for much of English-language philosophy in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Years Later John Locke devoted his attention to theology.

John Locke major work was The Reasonableness of Christianity which was published in John Locke fought against for a highly ecumenical form of Christianity. But after time, John Locke was closer to his death time. John Locke wrote a work on the Pauline Epistles which was unfinished but published posthumously. John Locke suffered from health problems most of his adult life. He had respiratory ailments but then he went to London where the air quality was very poor.

His health took a turn for the worse in He died on 28 October , while Damaris Masham was reading him the Psalms. He was buried at High Laver. He wrote his own epitaph which was both humble and forthright. Accessed July 23, Did you like this example? Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

Studydriver writers will make clear, mistake-free work for you! On the other interpretation, Locke recognized that people inheriting property did not in the process of doing so make any explicit declaration about their political obligation. However this debate is resolved, there will be in any current or previously existing society many people who have never given express consent, and thus some version of tacit consent seems needed to explain how governments could still be legitimate.

It is one thing, he argues, for a person to consent by actions rather than words; it is quite another to claim a person has consented without being aware that they have done so. To require a person to leave behind all of their property and emigrate in order to avoid giving tacit consent is to create a situation where continued residence is not a free and voluntary choice. Hannah Pitkin takes a very different approach.

Tacit consent is indeed a watering down of the concept of consent, but Locke can do this because the basic content of what governments are to be like is set by natural law and not by consent. Pitkin, however, thinks that for Locke the form and powers of government are determined by natural law.

What really matters, therefore, is not previous acts of consent but the quality of the present government, whether it corresponds to what natural law requires. Locke does not think, for example, that walking the streets or inheriting property in a tyrannical regime means we have consented to that regime. It is thus the quality of the government, not acts of actual consent, that determine whether a government is legitimate.

Simmons objects to this interpretation, saying that it fails to account for the many places where Locke does indeed say a person acquires political obligations only by his own consent. John Dunn takes a still different approach. Simmons objects that this ignores the instances where Locke does talk about consent as a deliberate choice and that, in any case, it would only make Locke consistent at the price of making him unconvincing.

Recent scholarship has continued to probe these issues. Only those who have expressly consented are members of political society, while the government exercises legitimate authority over various types of people who have not so consented. The government is supreme in some respects, but there is no sovereign. The former is more plausibly interpreted as an act of affirmative consent to be a member of a political society. Registering to vote, as opposed to actually voting, would be a contemporary analogue.

Van der Vossen makes a related argument, claiming that the initial consent of property owners is not the mechanism by which governments come to rule over a particular territory. Rather, Locke thinks that people probably fathers initially simply begin exercising political authority and people tacitly consent.

This tacit consent is sufficient to justify a rudimentary state that rules over the consenters. Treaties between these governments would then fix the territorial borders. Hoff goes still further, arguing that we need not even think of specific acts of tacit consent such as deciding not to emigrate as necessary for generating political obligation. Instead, consent is implied if the government itself functions in ways that show it is answerable to the people.

A related question has to do with the extent of our obligation once consent has been given. The interpretive school influenced by Strauss emphasizes the primacy of preservation. Since the duties of natural law apply only when our preservation is not threatened Two Treatises 2.

This has important implications if we consider a soldier who is being sent on a mission where death is extremely likely. Grant points out that Locke believes a soldier who deserts from such a mission 2. Grant takes Locke to be claiming not only that desertion laws are legitimate in the sense that they can be blamelessly enforced something Hobbes would grant but that they also imply a moral obligation on the part of the soldier to give up his life for the common good something Hobbes would deny.

According to Grant, Locke thinks that our acts of consent can, in fact, extend to cases where living up to our commitments will risk our lives. The decision to enter political society is a permanent one for precisely this reason: the society will have to be defended and if people can revoke their consent to help protect it when attacked, the act of consent made when entering political society would be pointless since the political community would fail at the very point where it is most needed.

People make a calculated decision when they enter society, and the risk of dying in combat is part of that calculation. Grant also thinks Locke recognizes a duty based on reciprocity since others risk their lives as well.

A different approach asks what role consent plays in determining, here and now, the legitimate ends that governments can pursue. One part of this debate is captured by the debate between Seliger and Kendall , the former viewing Locke as a constitutionalist and the latter viewing him as giving almost unlimited power to majorities. On the former interpretation, a constitution is created by the consent of the people as part of the creation of the commonwealth.

On the latter interpretation, the people create a legislature which rules by majority vote. A third view, advanced by Tuckness a , holds that Locke was flexible at this point and gave people considerable flexibility in constitutional drafting. A second part of the debate focuses on ends rather than institutions.

Locke states in the Two Treatises that the power of the Government is limited to the public good. Libertarians like Nozick read this as stating that governments exist only to protect people from infringements on their rights. On this second reading, government is limited to fulfilling the purposes of natural law, but these include positive goals as well as negative rights.

On this view, the power to promote the common good extends to actions designed to increase population, improve the military, strengthen the economy and infrastructure, and so on, provided these steps are indirectly useful to the goal of preserving the society. In arguing this, Locke was disagreeing with Samuel Pufendorf Samuel Pufendorf had argued strongly that the concept of punishment made no sense apart from an established positive legal structure.

Locke realized that the crucial objection to allowing people to act as judges with power to punish in the state of nature was that such people would end up being judges in their own cases. Locke readily admitted that this was a serious inconvenience and a primary reason for leaving the state of nature Two Treatises 2. Locke insisted on this point because it helped explain the transition into civil society. The power to punish in the state of nature is thus the foundation for the right of governments to use coercive force.

The situation becomes more complex, however, if we look at the principles which are to guide punishment. Rationales for punishment are often divided into those that are forward-looking and backward-looking. Forward-looking rationales include deterring crime, protecting society from dangerous persons, and rehabilitation of criminals.

Backward-looking rationales normally focus on retribution, inflicting on the criminal harm comparable to the crime. Locke may seem to conflate these two rationales in passages like the following:. Locke talks both of retribution and of punishing only for reparation and restraint.

Simmons argues that this is evidence that Locke is combining both rationales for punishment in his theory. In the passage quoted above, Locke is saying that the proper amount of punishment is the amount that will provide restitution to injured parties, protect the public, and deter future crime. Even in the state of nature, a primary justification for punishment is that it helps further the positive goal of preserving human life and human property. The emphasis on deterrence, public safety, and restitution in punishments administered by the government mirrors this emphasis.

A second puzzle regarding punishment is the permissibility of punishing internationally. Locke describes international relations as a state of nature, and so in principle, states should have the same power to punish breaches of the natural law in the international community that individuals have in the state of nature.

This would legitimize, for example, punishment of individuals for war crimes or crimes against humanity even in cases where neither the laws of the particular state nor international law authorize punishment. The most common interpretation has thus been that the power to punish internationally is symmetrical with the power to punish in the state of nature. Tuckness a , however, has argued that there is an asymmetry between the two cases because Locke also talks about states being limited in the goals that they can pursue.

Locke often says that the power of the government is to be used for the protection of the rights of its own citizens, not for the rights of all people everywhere Two Treatises 1. Locke argues that in the state of nature a person is to use the power to punish to preserve his society, which is mankind as a whole. After states are formed, however, the power to punish is to be used for the benefit of his own particular society. In the state of nature, a person is not required to risk his life for another Two Treatises 2.

Locke may therefore be objecting to the idea that soldiers can be compelled to risk their lives for altruistic reasons. In the state of nature, a person could refuse to attempt to punish others if doing so would risk his life and so Locke reasons that individuals may not have consented to allow the state to risk their lives for altruistic punishment of international crimes. Locke claims that legitimate government is based on the idea of separation of powers.

First and foremost of these is the legislative power. Locke describes the legislative power as supreme Two Treatises 2. The legislature is still bound by the law of nature and much of what it does is set down laws that further the goals of natural law and specify appropriate punishments for them 2.

The executive power is then charged with enforcing the law as it is applied in specific cases. Since countries are still in the state of nature with respect to each other, they must follow the dictates of natural law and can punish one another for violations of that law in order to protect the rights of their citizens. The fact that Locke does not mention the judicial power as a separate power becomes clearer if we distinguish powers from institutions.

Powers relate to functions. To have a power means that there is a function such as making the laws or enforcing the laws that one may legitimately perform. When Locke says that the legislative is supreme over the executive, he is not saying that parliament is supreme over the king. Moreover, Locke thinks that it is possible for multiple institutions to share the same power; for example, the legislative power in his day was shared by the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the King.

Since all three needed to agree for something to become law, all three are part of the legislative power 1. He also thinks that the federative power and the executive power are normally placed in the hands of the executive, so it is possible for the same person to exercise more than one power or function. There is, therefore, no one-to-one correspondence between powers and institutions Tuckness a. Locke is not opposed to having distinct institutions called courts, but he does not see interpretation as a distinct function or power.

For Locke, legislation is primarily about announcing a general rule stipulating what types of actions should receive what types of punishments. The executive power is the power to make the judgments necessary to apply those rules to specific cases and administer force as directed by the rule Two Treatises 2.

Both of these actions involve interpretation. In other words, the executive must interpret the laws in light of its understanding of natural law. Similarly, legislation involves making the laws of nature more specific and determining how to apply them to particular circumstances 2. Locke did not think of interpreting law as a distinct function because he thought it was a part of both the legislative and executive functions Tuckness a.

It is more the terminology than the concepts that have changed. Locke considered arresting a person, trying a person, and punishing a person as all part of the function of executing the law rather than as a distinct function Tuckness a. Locke believed that it was important that the legislative power contain an assembly of elected representatives, but as we have seen the legislative power could contain monarchical and aristocratic elements as well.

Locke was more concerned that the people have representatives with sufficient power to block attacks on their liberty and attempts to tax them without justification. This is important because Locke also affirms that the community remains the real supreme power throughout. This can happen for a variety of reasons. The entire society can be dissolved by a successful foreign invasion 2.

If the rule of law is ignored, if the representatives of the people are prevented from assembling, if the mechanisms of election are altered without popular consent, or if the people are handed over to a foreign power, then they can take back their original authority and overthrow the government 2.

They can also rebel if the government attempts to take away their rights 2. Locke thinks this is justifiable since oppressed people will likely rebel anyway, and those who are not oppressed will be unlikely to rebel. Moreover, the threat of possible rebellion makes tyranny less likely to start with 2. For all these reasons, while there are a variety of legitimate constitutional forms, the delegation of power under any constitution is understood to be conditional.

Prerogative is the right of the executive to act without explicit authorization for a law, or even contrary to the law, in order to better fulfill the laws that seek the preservation of human life. A king might, for example, order that a house be torn down in order to stop a fire from spreading throughout a city Two Treatises 2. Locke handles this by explaining that the rationale for this power is that general rules cannot cover all possible cases and that inflexible adherence to the rules would be detrimental to the public good and that the legislature is not always in session to render a judgment 2.

The relationship between the executive and the legislature depends on the specific constitution. If, however, the chief executive has a veto, the result would be a stalemate between them. Locke describes a similar stalemate in the case where the chief executive has the power to call parliament and can thus prevent it from meeting by refusing to call it into session.

Locke assumes that people, when they leave the state of nature, create a government with some sort of constitution that specifies which entities are entitled to exercise which powers. Locke also assumes that these powers will be used to protect the rights of the people and to promote the public good.

In cases where there is a dispute between the people and the government about whether the government is fulfilling its obligations, there is no higher human authority to which one can appeal. The only appeal left, for Locke, is the appeal to God. His central claims are that government should not use force to try to bring people to the true religion and that religious societies are voluntary organizations that have no right to use coercive power over their own members or those outside their group.

One recurring line of argument that Locke uses is explicitly religious. Locke argues that neither the example of Jesus nor the teaching of the New Testament gives any indication that force is a proper way to bring people to salvation. He also frequently points out what he takes to be clear evidence of hypocrisy, namely that those who are so quick to persecute others for small differences in worship or doctrine are relatively unconcerned with much more obvious moral sins that pose an even greater threat to their eternal state.

In addition to these and similar religious arguments, Locke gives three reasons that are more philosophical in nature for barring governments from using force to encourage people to adopt religious beliefs Works — This argument resonates with the structure of argument used so often in the Two Treatises to establish the natural freedom and equality of mankind.

There is no command in the Bible telling magistrates to bring people to the true faith, and people could not consent to such a goal for government because it is not possible for people, at will, to believe what the magistrate tells them to believe. Their beliefs are a function of what they think is true, not what they will. Many of the magistrates of the world believe religions that are false.

If force is indirectly useful in bringing people to the true faith, then Locke has not provided a persuasive argument. Waldron pointed out that this argument blocks only one particular reason for persecution, not all reasons. Thus it would not stop someone who used religious persecution for some end other than religious conversion, such as preserving the peace. Tuckness b and Tate argue that Locke deemphasized the rationality argument in his later writings.

Susan Mendus , for example, notes that successful brainwashing might cause a person to sincerely utter a set of beliefs, but that those beliefs might still not count as genuine. Beliefs induced by coercion might be similarly problematic. Paul Bou Habib argues that what Locke is really after is sincere inquiry and that Locke thinks inquiry undertaken only because of duress is necessarily insincere.

A person who has good reason to think he will not change his beliefs even when persecuted has good reason to prevent the persecution scenario from ever happening. Richard Vernon argues that we want not only to hold right beliefs, but also to hold them for the right reasons.

Since the balance of reasons rather than the balance of force should determine our beliefs, we would not consent to a system in which irrelevant reasons for belief might influence us. Richard Tate argues that the strongest argument of Locke for toleration is rooted in the fact that we do not consent to giving government authority in this area, only the promotion of our secular interests, interests that Locke thought a policy of toleration would further.

Still other commentators focus on the third argument, that the magistrate might be wrong. The two most promising lines of argument are the following. Wootton argues that there are very good reasons, from the standpoint of a given individual, for thinking that governments will be wrong about which religion is true. Governments are motivated by the quest for power, not truth, and are unlikely to be good guides in religious matters.

Wootton thus takes Locke to be showing that it is irrational, from the perspective of the individual, to consent to government promotion of religion. A different interpretation of the third argument is presented by Tuckness. He argues that the likelihood that the magistrate may be wrong generates a principle of toleration based on what is rational from the perspective of a legislator, not the perspective of an individual citizen or ruler.

Instead, he emphasized human fallibility and the need for universal principles. His attack on innate ideas increases the importance of giving children the right sort of education to help them get the right sorts of ideas.

Ideally, these social norms will reinforce natural law and thus help stabilize political society. This context means that the book assumes a person of relative wealth who will be overseeing the education of his son. The book was extremely popular and went through numerous editions in the century after its publication. Cultivating this desire helps the child learn to hold in check other harmful desires, such as the desire for dominion, and to learn to control impulses by not acting on them until after reflecting on them.

Locke encourages parents to tightly regulate the social environments of children to avoid children being corrupted by the wrong ideas and influences. Locke hopes for children who have internalized strong powers of self-denial and a work ethic that will make them compliant in an emerging modern economy. There are reasons for thinking that, under normal circumstances, the law of nature and the law of reputation will coincide with each other, minimizing the potential harms that come from people following the law of reputation Stuart-Buttle Much depends on whether one thinks conformity with natural law decreases or increases freedom.

While it is true that Locke recognizes the social nature of the Lockean subject, Locke does not think habituation and autonomy are necessarily opposed Koganzon , Nazar Because human beings naturally conform to the prevailing norms in their society, in the absence of a Lockean education people would not be more free because they would simply conform to those norms. Locke also assumes that the isolation of early childhood will end and that adolescent children will normally think differently from their parents Koganzon In fact, Locke may even use custom to help people rationally evaluate their customary prejudices Grant The editors would like to thank Sally Ferguson for pointing out a number of typographical and other infelicitous errors in this entry.

Natural Law and Natural Rights 2. State of Nature 3. Property 4. Consent, Political Obligation, and the Ends of Government 5. Locke and Punishment 6. Separation of Powers and the Dissolution of Government 7. Toleration 8.

Locke may seem to conflate these two rationales in passages like the following: And thus in the state of nature, one Man comes by a power over another, but yet no absolute or arbitrary Power, to use a criminal when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will, but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictates, what is proportionate to his transgression, which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint.

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POLITICAL THEORY - John Locke

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John Locke (–) is among the most influential political philosophers of the modern period. In the Two Treatises of Government. , d. ) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke's monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding . John Locke, English philosopher whose works lie at the foundation of modern philosophical empiricism and political liberalism. He was an inspirer of both.