Locke's State of Nature



(1) Liberty right


(2) Claim right

Locke's use of "property".


(3) Rights of self-defense and defense of the innocent, punishment, and reparations.


What is the difference between punishment and reparations?


What is the status of the Golden Rule?


What is the main difference between the state of nature and civil society?



What is the state of war? 


Is the state of nature necessarily a state of war?


How do men leave the state of nature?


How does Locke's view on war differ from that of Hobbes and of Hobbes's Fool?




Property Rights


Are there ownership rights in the State of Nature? 


Ownership of one's own body


Any other property? 


Property in common.


Original Acquisition:  Under what circumstances does mixing one's labor with something produce property rights in it?


How does money come into existence?


How does the existence of money make possible substantial inequalities of wealth?


Ownership of the products of one's labor:  Value of unimproved stuff vs. value of improvements

What is Locke's ratio?


How do property rights in civil society differ from State of Nature?


How does Locke differ from Hobbes on property rights?





Paternal/Parental (pre-property), Political (protects property), and Despotic (claims all property) Power



How does Locke distinguish political power from paternal/parental power?


How does Locke distinguish political power from despotical power?


What is conjugal society?  How does Locke distinguish political power from the husband's role in conjugal society?


Why is absolute monarchy "inconsistent with civil society"?(243)


The difference between Locke and Hobbes.  How would Locke reply to Hobbes on the issue of contracts entered into through fear?













Chapters 8 and 9:  Escaping the State of Nature


Why do people wish to escape the State of Nature and enter into civil society? 


Three "wants" (i.e., things missing) in the State of Nature.  What are they?  How are they resolved?


What rights are given up to enter civil society?


How does political society arise?


What is the goal of civil society?















Why does Locke believe people in the state of nature will agree to establish a civil society?




The Role of Consent


What is the role of majority rule in political society?  Why is majority rule favored over any other alternative? 


The two objections that Locke discusses.  What are they?

How does he reply to each of them?


On Locke's account, how does a child come to be the subject of a sovereign?

Two steps:  tacit consent and express consent.


Is express consent to a government revocable?  Why or why not?


















The Terms of the Original Contract


The Legislative Power:


        Where does it come from?


        What forms can it take?


        Why is it not temporary?


        What are the limits on it?


(1) Cannot be arbitrary.  Why not?  What is the goal of legislation?

(2) Must rule on the basis of promulgated, standing laws applied by known and authorized judges.

(3) No deprivation of property without "his own consent".  Does Locke really hold that individuals have to consent to all deprivations of property (e.g., taxes)?

(4) No transfer of legislative powers.


Big Question:  How does Locke know the terms of the Original Contract?









Chapter 19:  The Dissolution of a Government


What is the difference between a society and a government?


Can one be dissolved without the other?


I. Dissolved from outside:  Dissolution of both a society and a government by foreign conquest;


II. Dissolved from within:  Dissolution of government (not necessarily society):


(A) When the legislative is altered


(B) When the legislative acts against the trust reposed in them (i.e., against the terms of the Original Agreement), by invading the property of subjects. 



Note again that Locke seems quite sure that he knows the terms of the Original Contract.  How?












(a) Threat to stability.  How does Locke reply?


(b) Incitement to rebellion.  How does Locke reply?


This doctrine is "the best fence against rebellion"(284).


Recall the analogy to polecats and lions (244).

Also, the analogy to robbers and pirates (285)


The state of war


In disputes between the prince and the people, who shall be judge?