The Development Of Property From The Second
Treatise Of Government By John Locke Essay, Research Paper
The Beginning of Property
Private property plays an important role in the theory of Locke.Locke answers several questions in his discussion of property. At what point does an item become private property? How does man acquire property? What amount of private property can a person have? How do you measure this amount? Locke also looks at how value and communities emerged from the establishment of property.
Locke begins by saying that God gave the world to mankind. Every feature of the world was common to man, meaning that the world belonged to everyone. When God gave the world to man, he also gave man reason to make the best use out of it. The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being(Locke, 18). We have to remember that all these things, such as soil, trees, and fruits,are here for everyone to use, but are of no use unless they are removed from their natural state in some way. How are they removed from their natural state that God created them
Labour is a property in itself but also leads to the creation of private property. A property is something that someone owns. Locke says that every man has a property in his own person. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his (Locke,19). Labour is a property of man, something man owns, and by the means of labour, man is able to remove something out of it s natural state. When this object is removed out of it s natural state by labour, it excludes the common right of other men to the object, thus becoming the property of the labourer.
From this concept of labour, comes the question of how to measure property. The measure of property is determined by the extent of man s labour and conveniences of life (Locke, 22). God gave us earth, more specifically ground, but without labour. In this case the ground is useless. Man was forced to labour as a means of survival. Without labour, man would not have the essentials, such as food and shelter, which are needed to survive. The outcome of man s labour is his property. God forced men to labour (or have
property),thus creating the condition of life.
The rule of propriety states that every man is allowed to posses as many products of nature as he was capable of laboring. If these products perished in his possession before he was able to use them, he would be taking away from others, an action that was punishable. This rule applies to determining the amount of property one can acquire.
As the population increased and as property took on value, there was a need for boundaries between the private properties of different owners. For it is labour indeed that puts the difference of value on every thing (Locke, 25). What Locke is saying here is that the more labour that is put into harvesting a corn field, the more the corn the proprietor will get out of the land, and the more value the land will have. Locke says of the products of the earth useful to the life of man nine tenths are the effects of labour
(Locke, 25). In effect, the increase of land meant an increase in the employment of land, which built the foundations for the cities, industry, and government that emerged.
Private property led to bartering, usually trading non-perishable items such as money, for perishable items such as fruit. As Locke states it, man is exceeding the bounds of his just property not lying in the largeness of his possession (Locke,28). The invention of money, a private property, gave man the opportunity to enlarge his possessions, status, and wealth.
Locke s theory of property emerged in the sixteenth century. We need to examine a scenario to understand how Locke s theory applies to the nineteenth century.
When the Gallup Poll conducts a census, it sends questionnaires to the population that it needs to receive information from. For example, staticians that work for the Gallup Poll are trying to receive information about the lives of working parents. The poll sends questionnaires only to parents that work. When Mr. Jones, CEO president, reads the question How does working a night shift affect your child s life? he is going to interpret it differently then Mrs.Smith, the librarian, when she reads it. Why? Because each person
comes from a different background. Society, political events, family life, social life, time period, and many other factors influence the way a person views something. It is merely impossible to find a question that will have the same meaning to each person. How can Locke s universally known theory be applied to each person?
The answer to this question is that Locke s theory of property can not incorporate each person into it s meaning. The information that Locke wrote applied to the sixteenth century. This is by no means Locke s fault because he could not predict the way of life in the nineteenth century. I am sympathetic with Locke s viewpoint. To an extent I agree with every point he makes. What I do not agree with is the fact that his theory excludescertain people, such as the poor and disabled.
God gave the world to mankind for everyone to share. God created the world so that everything, including everyone would be equal. We know that the world was useless without labour. What Locke failed to include in his theory was that certain people such as the disabled may not be able to use their bodies for labour. This means that they are unable to produce their own food, shelter, and other necessities to survive.The outcome
of man s labour is his property.Does this mean that a disabled person can not have the necessities for survival? God forced men to labour(to survive),thus creating the condition of life. If a person is not able to supply physical labour, does this mean he does not have the right to survive? God created the condition of life, thus causing the disabled to be unequal. Locke says, every man has a property in his own person (Locke,19), referring to the labour of one s body. If man does not have labour does he not have property?
The same concept applies to people who are poor. Poor people have nothing of value, no goods to trade for land, so how are they supposed to provide for themselves? They could work for others, but what if they have no skill? Man was forced to labour as means of survival. Does being poor take away the right to survive?
God gave the world to mankind but he left it in the hands of man to use, distribute,and place value upon. The extent of labour leads to the extent of wealth, which can be traced back to God and his creation (the world). Those who are excluded in the acquisition of property are the misfortunate and also result from God and his creation. One gave title to the other. So that God, by commanding to subdue, gave authority so far to appropriate: and the condition of human life, which requires labour and materials to work on, necessarily introduces private possessions (Locke,22).