Published on August 30, 2007
Today: Today • Introduction to John Locke • Second Treatise of Government • Locke’s state of nature: liberty and equality • Law of Nature • Problems in the state of nature • Solution to the problems in the state of nature • Criticism of Hobbesian absolute monarch John Locke 1632-1704: John Locke 1632-1704 'A philosopher, a medical doctor, an educator, a politician, and a man of action.' Opposed to authoritarianism in matters of belief, politics, and religion. In favor of individual judgment. John Locke 1632-1704: John Locke 1632-1704 Probably the single biggest philosophical influence on the American Revolution and Constitution. Slide4: Important dates in the life of John Locke Slide5: 1642-1649 Civil War 1649-1660 Interregnum (Oliver Cromwell) 1660 Restoration of Stuart Royalty (Charles II) Locke joins with the Earl of Shaftesbury Shaftesbury opposes the Stuart Royalty Shaftesbury is imprisoned for opposition 1682 Locke flees to Holland Glorious Revolution (William of Orange) Locke returns to England 1690 Two Treatises of Government published Locke’s Second Treatise of Government: Locke’s Second Treatise of Government Goal of Second Treatise To determine the origin of political power To determine when political power is legitimate and when it is not To determine when we are obligated to obey the political powers and when we may legitimately resist To refute political absolutism Locke’s Second Treatise of Government: Locke’s Second Treatise of Government Hidden goal of Second Treatise? To justify the overthrow of the Stuarts and the Glorious Revolution? Locke’s Second Treatise of Government: Locke’s Second Treatise of Government Major historical consequence of the Second Treatise Shift of balance of political power away from Royalty and absolute rulers and toward elected officials and divided, conditional rule. American Revolution Slide9: Locke advances a social contract theory, one that starts from a state of nature and works towards an explanation and justification of government. Locke’s state of nature is not nearly as bad as Hobbes’s. Locke’s state of nature is better than certain kinds of governments. So on Locke’s view, obedience to government is not always justified. We’re better off in a state of nature than in certain kinds of government. Locke’s State of Nature: Locke’s State of Nature In Locke’s state of nature, we have Perfect freedom Perfect equality Locke’s State of Nature: 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: Locke’s State of Nature 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.' Locke’s State of Nature: Locke’s State of Nature What did Hobbes mean by 'equality'? What does Locke mean by 'equality'? Equality is 'the foundation of that obligation to mutual love amongst men, on which [is built] the duties they owe one another, and from whence [is derived] the great maxims of justice and charity.' Locke’s State of Nature: Locke’s State of Nature What did Hobbes mean by freedom in the state of nature? What does Locke mean by freedom in the state of nature? The Law of Nature: The Law of Nature The Liberty in the state of nature is not a 'license' to do whatever you want. There is a law of nature, discoverable by reason, that obligates one 'to preserve himself' and 'to preserve the rest of mankind.' The law of nature obligates us 'not to harm others in their life, health, liberty, or possessions; and not to take away or impair the life of what tends to the preservation of the life, liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.' The Law of Nature: The Law of Nature What is the origin or justification of the law of nature? Reason informs us of the law of nature. The law of nature follows from the fact that we are all the workmanship of God. Everyone is God’s property. Locke’s State of Nature: Locke’s State of Nature Locke maintains that every human is the workmanship and property of God. This fact about every human creates natural moral duties in all of us. We have natural duties of justice and charity towards every other human. We have natural duties to treat everyone as we would like to be treated, because they deserve it as much as we do. Locke’s State of Nature: Locke’s State of Nature We have a duty not to destroy ourselves because we are God’s property. We have a duty not to destroy others (unless our preservation absolutely depends on it) because they are God’s property. We have a duty not to harm another in life, liberty, healthy, or possessions. We have a duty to preserve not only ourselves but all of humankind. Locke’s State of Nature: Locke’s State of Nature Compare the moral imperatives that exist in Hobbes’s state of nature with the moral imperatives that exist in Locke’s state of nature. Locke’s state of nature is (theologically) morally saturated in a way Hobbes’s is not. Slide20: But Locke doesn’t think the state of nature is a Garden of Eden. It’s not all peachy keen. There are some very serious 'inconveniences' even in Locke’s morally saturated state of nature. Slide21: What’s the cause of the problems? Enforcement of the law of nature. Slide22: 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.' One’s right to enforce the law of nature follows from one’s obligation to preserve mankind. Slide23: How well do you think private individuals will do at enforcing the law of nature? Problem with the state of nature: Problem with the state of nature Locke thinks that while people may have reasonably good intentions, they will almost inevitably screw up the enforcement to some extent. Self-love will make people partial to themselves and their friends when they are judging the natural law in their own case. Ill nature, passion, and revenge will carry people too far in punishing others. Slide25: Solution to the problems of the state of nature: Civil government, which will prevent people from having to judge their own case (neutral third part referees). The purpose of civil government: to prevent the ills of a person’s judging his own case. Slide26: Hobbesian absolute monarchs judge in their own case. Hobbesian states fail to be proper civil governments We’re better off in the state of nature than in a Hobbesian state, Slide27: 'Absolute monarchs are but men; and if government is to be the remedy of those evils, which necessarily follow from men’s being judges in their own cases, and the state of nature is therefore not to be endured, I desire to know what kind of government that is, and how much better it is than the state of nature, where one man, commanding a multitude, has the liberty to be judge in his own case, and may do to all his subjects whatever he pleases, without the least liberty to any one to question or control those who execute his pleasure? and in whatsoever he doth, whether led by reason, mistake or passion, must be submitted to? Much better it is in the state of nature, wherein men are not bound to submit to the unjust will of another: and if he that judges, judges amiss in his own way, or any other case, he is answerable for it to the rest of mankind.'