John Locke and Jean Domat: Two 17th Century Theories of Power

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During the 17th century, Europe was the center of two competing types of government; Absolutism and constitutionalism. Would a single ruler or shared power be best for the people? John Locke and Jean Domat both have their own opinions on how a government should administer.

Jean Domat is a political theorist who favors the idea of absolutism. He argues that individuals are given a certain rank in society, in other words, a type of predestiny. It was believed God assigned these ranks and picked a sovereign to rule over the people with divinity. The creator had given individual different status and roles in society to help one another. Within natural equality, each person has a different purpose in life which makes their status unequal; thus, a government is necessary to make everything fall into place. The first difference between people is seen within a relationship between a parent and child. It leads to sort of a "government" within a family where a child is indebted to the parents who are the leaders. Another difference among people is their type of employment. Both high and low-wage workers are important in society because they depend on each other.

God gives a sovereign the power to govern the people so he can represent the will of their Creator. Domat mentions in his essay, "Since government is necessary for the public good, and God Himself has established it". A sovereign who was selected by God should be compliant and society should obey the government. An individual should also respect the sovereign the same way he/she does for God. If a sovereign doesn't follow the rules himself, then his government will have its demise. A person who rules the government should know the purpose of God's will and incorporate the divine power given to him.

On the other hand, John Locke is also a political theorist but favors the idea of constitutionalism. He argues that the natural law gives people the authority to create affiliations without force. Every...
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