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John Locke: Second Treatise Of Civil Government

903 words - 4 pages

Civil Government and Locke

The Second Treatise of Government provides Locke's theorizes the individual rights and involvement with the government; he categorizes them in two areas -- natural rights theory and social contract. 1.Natural state; rights which human beings are to have before government comes into being. 2.Social contact; when conditions in natural state are unsatisfactory, and there's need to develop society into functioning of central government.

Political Power and Natural state: He explains the need for civil government; by detailing life with the absence of civil government. This is the premature state of an entity; through this one can see the need and a role for a government structure. He begins by defining political power; which is the right of making laws with penalties varying with the nature of transgression. The laws are maintained for the preservation of property; the enrichment of the community and its defense.

He determines the need for civil government by expressing the state of society without a government. To maintain harmony; there is a need to maintain equality; this is the state of nature. The chief end for the human species is survival; to attain it we need life, liberty, health and property. These are natural rights that we have in a state of nature before the introduction of civil government, and all people have these rights equally.
The Natural State personifies a state of utopia; as it does not account for the realistic issues of violations of this natural state. There are no police, prosecutors or judges in the state of nature as these are all representatives of a government with full political power. In addition to our other rights, we have the rights to enforce the law and judge on our own behalf. We may intervene in cases where our own interests are not directly under threat to help enforce the law of nature. Still, the person who is most likely to enforce the law under these circumstances is the person who has been wronged. The basic principle of justice is that the punishment should be proportionate to the crime. When victims are judging a crime; they likely to judge it of greater severity than an impartial judge. As a result, there will be miscarriages of justice.

Slavery: Is the state of being in the absolute or arbitrary power of another. On Locke's definition of slavery there is only one way to become a legitimate slave. In order to do so one must be an unjust aggressor defeated in war. The just victor then has the option to either kill the aggressor or enslave them. Locke tells us that the state of slavery is the continuation of the state of war between a lawful conqueror and a captive, in which the conqueror...

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