Differences and Similarities of Liberalism
The purpose of this paper is to treat the similarly and differences of
liberalism. I will use John Locke and Adam Smith to represent classical
liberals. John Stuart Mill and John Maynard Keynes will be used to show
In John Locke's Second Treatise of Government he develops a theory of
government as a product of a social contract, which when broken justifies the
creation of a new government for the protection of life, liberty and property.
He begins his argument by developing a theory of the state of nature which is
...what state all men are naturally in, and that is, 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.1
The state of nature includes the “...law of nature to govern it, which obliges
everyone; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but
consult it...”2 The state of nature also includes inequality
...since gold and silver, being little useful to the life of a
man in proportion to food, raiment, and carriage, has its value
only from the consent of men, whereof labour yet makes, in
great part, the measure, it is plain that men have agreed to a
disproportional and unequal possession of the earth.3
In Locke's state on nature there are also three distinct problems. First
there is no established settled known law. As each man consults his own law of
nature he receives a slightly different interpretation.
Secondly there no known and indifferent judge. Which creates the
problem of trying to decide which is the correct law of nature which will be
followed in an impartial manor.
Thirdly there is insufficient force of execution. This is the problem
of how to carry out the decision of the law of nature on another when he has a
different interpretation or doesn't consult the law of nature.
Locke states that the three problems in the state of nature would be
best solved by coming together to form a new government to protect there
The great and chief end therefore, of men's coming into commonwealths,
and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their
And goes further into what this new government should be empowered to do
firstly...established, settled known law, received and allowed by
common consent to be the standard of right and wrong, and the
common measure to decide all controversies between them...
secondly...there wants a known and indifferent judge, with
authority to determine all differences according to the
established law...thirdly...There often wants power to back
and support the sentence...