John Locke 4 Essay, Research Paper
John Locke embraced many ideas Hobbes presented in his theories on the state of nature and the rise of government and society. They differed however, in that Locke believed that God was the prime factor in politics. He believed that individuals were born with certain natural rights given not by government or society, but by God. This he said, is what gives all people equality. Hobbes other key points consisted mainly of property rights and the invention of money. Besides the right to self preservation, Locke also believed that all individuals had a natural right to property. This natural right carried with it two preconditions of natural law. First, since God gave the earth to all individuals, people must be sure to leave enough property remaining for others to have, and secondly nothing may be allowed to spoil. These conditions met, an individual was granted exclusive rights to any object with which they mixed their labor. For Locke, mixing labor was in effect placing a part of the self into an object, and thereby making it part of the individual and therefore their property.
Human nature being the way it is, people eventually found a way around the natural law restrictions on property accumulation through the creation of money. Instead of only accumulating as much property as could be used without spoilage, people created money as a means around the natural law. Since money does not spoil, the burden of upholding the law now became that of the consumer rather than of the producer. People were granted the ability to accumulate unlimited money based upon their industriousness. This meant that some people acted more rationally than others, and thus were more deserving of property. Locke also argued that when people agreed to start using money, they also agreed to the “disproportionate and unequal possession of the Earth.” He believed that people would be free to sell their labor to one another in exchange for money. When this happened, any property the laborer produced became the property of the buyer. For Locke the state of nature was still a horrible place, but God’s law created moral imperatives preventing humans from partaking in the total free for all that Hobbes described. People left the state of nature, according to Locke, not out of fear of violent death, but as a matter of convenience and to protect their property. They did not give all of their rights to an absolute authoritarian government. Instead, they formed two distinctively separate agreements: the contract of society and the contract of the majority of society and government.
The contract of society took place when people gave up the total freedom that they enjoyed in the state of nature to form society. This society was made up of two types of people: property owners and non property owners. Property owners being rational individuals were given the right of suffrage, while non property owners, viewed as not being industrious, were not. Property owners were further said to be of civil society while non property owners were only considered to be in but not of society. To fulfill the contract of the majority of society and government, society as a whole contracts an impartial third party to act as the government. This agreement is often referred to as a trustee relationship because the government has no rights, only responsibilities to the people, and therefore acts only in the best interest of the members of the society. The government is given its power to act by the property-owning portion of the population, not by the society as a whole. Another point that makes Locke’s theory different is that society has the power to overthrow the government. Since a majority created it, they have the power to remove it. According to Hobbes’s theory, the leviathan won’t be overthrown because of the great fear of returning to the state of nature. This coupled with the fact that the government holds absolute power over the…
The rest of the paper is available free of charge to our registered users. The registration process just couldn’t be easier.
Log in or register now. It is all free!