Locke's State of Nature

In Janusz Grygiencl (ed.), .Human Rights and Politics. Erida (2013)
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Abstract
Locke’s Second Treatise of Government lays the foundation for a fully liberal order that includes representative and limited government, and that guarantees basic civil liberties. Though future thinkers filled in some gaps left in his doctrine, such as division of powers between executive and judicial branch of government, as well as fuller exposition of economic freedom and human rights, it is Locke, who paves the way for others. The article reviews the Treatise, paying particular attention to his ingenious way to render absolute power illegitimate and to create an order that breeds citizens, not subject. In this, the article claims, Locke is a Whig rather than a continental liberal. He worries about state omnipotence and the threat it poses for citizens. Though resorting to an abstract construct—state of nature—he still is a common sense, English thinker, far from a continental reformer who would thoroughly redesign the existing order.
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Archival date: 2013-10-29
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