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Locke – 2nd Treatise

* State of Nature – All men are originally in a state of nature. A man in this original state is bound by the laws of nature, but he is otherwise able to live, act, and dispose of his possessions as he sees fit. More important, human beings, free from the arbitrary laws of other men, have an obligation to protect the interests of each other, since they are all equally children of God. They also have an obligation to punish those who go against God’s will and attempt to harm another by compromising his life, liberty, or possessions. * State of Nature involves people living together, governed by reason, without need of a common superior. The State of War occurs when people exert unwelcome force on other people, interfering with their own natural rights and freedom, without common authority. The difference between war in society and war in nature depends on when they end. In society, war ends when the act of force, such as fighting, is over. When the last blow has been thrown, both parties can appeal to common authorities for the final resolution of past wrongs. But in nature, war does not end until the aggressive party offers peace and offers to repair the damage done. Locke claims that one of the major reasons people enter into society is to avoid the state of war.

* Natural Rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable. Locke also said that man’s natural rights are life, liberty, and property.

* Life – everyone is entitled to live once they are created. * Liberty – everyone is entitled to do anything they want to so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first right. * Estate – everyone is entitled to own all they create or gain through gift or trade so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two rights. * In contrast, Legal Rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system. * Locke asked by what right an individual can claim to own one part of the world, when, according to the Bible, God gave the world to all humanity in common. He answered that persons own themselves and therefore their own labor. When a person works, that labor enters into the object. Thus, the object becomes property of that person.

* Locke bases his ideas about Slavery on the idea that freedom from arbitrary, absolute power is so fundamental that, even if one sought to, one could not relinquish it; it is therefore impossible for one to enlist into slavery voluntarily. The only possible State of Slavery is the extension of the state of war, between a lawful conqueror and a captive, when the captive has been forced into obedience. Locke notes that even in Exodus, the Jews did not sell themselves into slavery, but simply into drudgery, for their masters did not have full power over their lives, and therefore, did not have full control over their liberty. * Locke starts off by stating that an unjust conqueror never has the right to rule the conquered. Unjust Conquest is always unjust in Locke’s model, whether by petty thief or a despot. Locke then moves on to make provisions for the cases in which there is a Lawful Conquest (which he does not yet define). In lawful conquest, “The conqueror gets no power by his conquest over those that conquered with him.” In other words, those that help the conqueror conquer cannot suffer from having given their aid; rather, they should benefit from it.

* Social Contract theory is the view that persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live.

* Consent Theory is a term for the idea in social philosophy that individuals primarily make decisions as free agents entering into consensual relationships with other free agents, and that this becomes the basis for political governance. * Express Consent is when you actively agree...
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