Political Theory: Comparing Locke, Rousseau and Plato

Topics: Political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke Pages: 15 (3768 words) Published: April 18, 2013
Locke: What is the purpose of politics

- we could live in the state of nature, we don’t need contract or soverign

- life, liberty and property

State of nature: men live according to reason and governed by reason

- man exists in the state of nature in perfect freedom to do as they want, a state of perfect freedom

- not necessarily good or bad, bit is calm and peaceful

- men give up some of their freedom to secure the advantages of civilized socity

- men have the right to protect their freedom (killing if necessary)

- bound by the laws of nature

- contrast with hobbes: everyone has the right over everything, there exist no private property

- Liberty to do as he will, but not harm others

Purpose of government:

- to secure the natural rights of property rights and liberty

- we need law enforcers (soverign), we give power to one person and in doing so this creates a government

Private Property:

- one established once you mix your labor with good

- most important because we must create a state because of the scarcity of resource (prisoners dilemma) and the innovation of money

- mandatory to own property while living in commonwealth, can mix labour with other peoples resource (compensated)


- ensures the government represents the people

- safeguard against oppression

- disapproval of absolute monarchies; they are arbitary and represent interest of one

- governement must always be for the people

1. government must be desgined to protect the people from the gov

2. natural rights must be secured


- mans main drive is self preservation, but thinks that hobbes and locke overestimated the likelihood of the state of war

- men are inherintely good

State of Nature:

- gives life to general will, so all can live well

- men are free and equal, seen as nobel savages, only concerned with immediate needs (hunger, sex, fear, death)

- savages are motivated by self preservation and pity, men are naturally good and don’t want to hurt each other, doesn’t want the state of war

- believes civilization is what corrupted him, save man is not concerned with materialistic values

Morality: differs from locke

- in the state of nature there is no reason for law, right or morality because we tend to avoid harming each other because of our natural aversion to pain and suffereing

Social Contract:

- must have a group that mediates the people and government

- we must force people to be free and force people to follow the sovereign

Property rights:

- must mix labor, cannot have more than others because this is a source of inequality

- materialistic thinks are making us morally worse

- everything that comes from nature is good, everything from society is bad

- a source of inequality; creates dependence and jealousy

Purpose of government:

- to bring the people in harmony

- to unite them under the general will


- citizens cannot give away their civil duties, they must participate in politics, because the direct democracy must represent the general will

- Rousseau-Social Contract
• The problems of inequality, amor proper, problem of general discontent • Answer to the problem of natural freedom.
• Nature provides no standards for determining who should rule • Man is not a political animal, the general will is the foundation of all legitimate authority • All standards of justice and right have the origin in the unique human property of the will or free agency • Liberation of the will from the usual sources that is the true center of gravity of Roussau’s philosophy. • Primacy of the will

• Given rousseau’s libertarian conception of human nature. • The...
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