John Locke Essay

1232 words - 5 pages

John Locke uses the fundamental principles of the state of nature as a foundation for his conclusion about the principles of politics. He notes that human nature inevitably inclines people to leave the state of nature and enter civil society. He begins with the state of nature to show the many factors that would incline human beings to enter into a governmental society. Locke details why the state of nature does not work and why there is a need for civil society.The state of nature is the basis of Locke's essay. It asserts that all people were born into a state of equality and no one man has authority or political power over any one but himself. In the state of nature, men and women have these unchallengeable rights. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it. Under the law of nature, each person is free to pursue life, liberty, and property. These rights are available to us all based on a couple of concepts. The first is that we all are the workmanship of God, and should treat each other in the way He would have us treat each other. The second is the moral concept that we are all born with the same capacities and faculties and therefore, no one man is any less equal than another. The third is the prudential argument, which states that it is in our own interest to follow the laws of nature. Since the right to execute the law of nature gives every man a right to be judge and jury, the prudential reason for following the laws is that if you commit a crime against anther, they or their family will seek to punish you. In the state of nature, any offense that can be committed must be punished appropriately. The punishment should be as much as necessary to make for repentance and deter any such future acts of crime. A transgression against one man is one against society as a whole. Locke states that any person who sets out to injure himself or others should not be given equal rights under the law of nature. Unfortunately, the right of each man to protect his own rights, if acted upon, would lead to chaos. In order to avoid this chaos, people agree to a social contract where all men are governed by one common body of rule.Locke begins his principles of politics with the state of nature in order to show that no political authority can be formed without the consent of men to give up certain powers to a political body. It also establishes the main reason for man to enter into a political society, which is, the preservation of one's life, liberty, and property. A government is formed with the consent of all men who come under its authority. The type of political power is established based on a majority and this power has a duty to act on behalf of all men within its power. In entering into a government, man gives up some liberties, with the intention of better preserving his fundamental rights. One of the main things he gives up is natural freedom and must abide by the laws set up by civil society. Another is the right to enforce the laws of...

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