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Political Theory Of John Locke Essay

1341 words - 5 pages

John Locke: Account of Political Society

What would the American government be like today if it was not for the mind and political theory of John Locke? Some historians and philosophers believe that without John Locke our government would only be a shadow of what it is today. Arguably, one of his most important political and philosophical works was his Two Treatises of Government. There he argues that the function of the state is to protect the natural rights of its citizens, primarily to protect the right to property. John Locke, in many eyes, can be viewed as one of the father’s of Democracy. He embraced many of ideas in his theories on the state of nature and the rise of political society today. In Locke’s political society, the government is founded up a social contract by which the individuals of the state make a "social contract" with the government, and enter into it freely, to ensure that their rights in the state of nature are protected. Taking that into consideration, many questions and problems arise concerning Locke’s claims. For example, we have to justify the legitimacy of the "social contract" and validate its benefits and shortcomings.
But why would people form a social contract? Humans beings decide to form a society out of the state of nature because there must be unity among men in order to protect one another, and so that they may punish offenders of justice or the good life. Locke says that, "the only way whereby anyone diverts himself of his natural liberty and put on the bonds of civil society is by agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community, for their comfortable, safe, and peaceful living one amongst another", (Locke Ch. 8,95). Men do this under the rule of an individual who is selected by the people. Though humans give up certain rights to the chosen authority, they are entitled to certain rights reserved to them alone which they hold within the society. This in essence means that all members of the society should be equal under the law of justice, and that no man is better than another, since all men are created equal, and all are equal before the laws of nature.
“Everyone as he is bound to preserve himself, and not quit his station willfully; so by the like reason when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not unless it be to do justice on an offender, take any, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb or goods of another,” (Locke pg 117, 6). That means that no individual has the right to take away the rights of another. As a result, if a person commits a crime, the people have a right to punish him. For example, if one man kills another man's sheep, then the people have the right to kill one of his sheep without committing a crime.
Besides the right to self-preservation, Locke also...

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