John Locke and Land Ownership

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John Locke and Land Ownership

John Locke in The Second Treatise of Civil Government makes several key arguments about what makes land ownable, these ideologies differ from how land ownership works in America but it is easy to see how America’s early days could have aligned with this ideology. In this paper I will focus on two key principles that Locke believed in that are basic requirements for land ownership. The first of these is that land ownership is obtained through labor and that items on the land have no value until labor is applied and the second describes government’s role in land ownership as simply being that the labor applied to land precedes government and government cannot dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily and instead should be limited to securing the life and property of its citizens, and is only necessary because in an ideal, anarchic state of nature, various problems arise that would make life more insecure than under the protection of a minimal state. These two principles allow for the easy identification of claimed lands. While at the same time provide the motivation and encouragement to individuals so that they will want to find land that they can then harness through labor and thus make their own land. It is because of these reasons and more that land ownership through labor is a must for a successful society and a functioning government. In order to ensure that these principles are being viewed and judge from the same sense of meaning a few key words need to be defined as used in this paper. The term land ownership is vital to this paper and its meaning will be defined as, “the owner of contiguous property that has been improved upon from nature to provide for one’s living”. The term labor will only be used in reference to labor upon an individual’s land and will reference, “human time and effort put in to a particular task”. The term government will reference only the actual ruling body that “influences daily life based...
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