StudentShare solutions
Triangle menu

Locke on the state - Essay Example

Nobody downloaded yet

Extract of sample
Locke on the state

In order to understand a normative account of government, it is useful to understand the descriptive. By examining theories regarding the human state of nature, it is possible to set forth standards and norms by which people ought to live, including those relating to who should rule. This essay will analyze Locke's account of the origins and purpose of governance, with the aim of understanding how supporting the conflicting ideals of autonomy and authority might be remedied.
Locke's state of nature comprises three elements; a state of perfect freedom, a state of equality and a state of natural law, which commands "no-one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions" (9). Accepting these elements is of fundamental importance in understanding the origins and role of government, but there are problems to be overcome. The natural law immediately limits the scope of the first, in that we do not have a perfect freedom to jeopardize another person's safety or invade their property. Secondly, if every person is equal, there is no natural claim to authority, which seems to conflict with the notion of obeying the law as set down by a government. The inclusion of the moral law in Locke's state of nature helps us to understand the motivations behind an argument for setting up a political governing body. We may all be equal on Earth, but the existence of a natural law which states we are duty bound not to harm others implies the existence of an objective morality as created by some other superior being, i.e. God.
This theological aspect of Locke's account is important. It means that every individual is at liberty to behave in a way which fits within the parameters of a natural moral duty. Furthermore, as the law is created by a superior being, there must be some reason to accept that the law should be upheld. Although it might seem absurd, in this day and age to accept an appeal to God as a reason to accept an argument, Locke also appeals to an idea of natural reason which is inherent in all of us. Co-operation with the natural law ensures our survival, and so it is unreasonable to think anyone would object to it. Hence, each person is not only equally bound to abide by the natural law, but each person is also equally bound to ensure that others abide by it. "In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule other than that of reason" (Locke 10), and so offers himself up to be punished by those who have not. The equality of every man within a state of nature also means that each individual who has not broken the natural law has the right to punish the offender. The severity of that punishment should be adequate not only to ensure the perpetrator does not commit the same act again, but also act as a deterrent for other would-be criminals to do something similar. From this reasoning, it is believed that mankind will be preserved and live in a state of relative security.
By Locke's own admission, this right to punish, may seem like "a very strange doctrine" (10), but without it, the law of the land would only apply to those who are naturally resident within it. Foreigners who have not consented to domestic legal policy would be free to act under their own standards and so the freedoms and safety of native habitants would be in doubt. It must then be a natural law that governs all mankind, regardless of cultural ...Show more
Cite this document
  • APA
  • MLA
(“Locke on the state Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 words”, n.d.)
Retrieved from
(Locke on the State Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words)
“Locke on the State Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words”, n.d.
  • Cited: 0 times


Carefully explain and evaluate Locke's account of the origins and purpose of political governance, together with how submission to common legislative, judicial and executive bodies can be consistent with the preservation of one's natural rights to life, liberty, equality and private property.
Author : walterbertha
Locke on the state
Read Text Preview
Save Your Time for More Important Things
Let us write or edit the essay on your topic
"Locke on the state"
with a personal 20% discount.
Grab the best paper

Check these samples - they also fit your topic

Hobbes and Locke views on the State of Nature
Locke argues that in a state of nature, all individuals have a natural right to whatever it is they obtain, so long as they labour upon it. In a state of nature, all individuals have equal rights against eachother. The following will examine the state of nature in both philosophers, and in turn, it will be argued that Hobbes view of nature leads to a position that defends a strong sovereign or monarchy, by contrast, Locke's more egalitarian view of nature leads to a more democratic society.
5 pages (1250 words) Essay
Analysis of Writings by John Locke
“Chapter Four: Of Slavery” detests extreme forms of slavery, where masters hold the life and death of slaves, but at the same time, it supports a certain degree of slavery based on drudgery. “Chapter Nine: Of the Ends of Political Society and Government” examines the sole source of power and legitimacy of the state and what the state should do for its citizens.
4 pages (1000 words) Essay
Kant and Locke
Both Kant and Locke were influential philosophers for the modern era. Each of them specialized in a different area of stress and interest, yet all of them tried to create an impression for humankind and questioned the manner in which human beings interact within the society.
4 pages (1000 words) Essay
Despite the fact that resources on earth are by nature without prior claim by an individual and in common ownership, Locke argues that, labor is required in order to utilize the resources (Locke 34). Labor, in this sense, can be defined as application of lawful and natural effort by an individual to own what was previously common property without any individual owner.
4 pages (1000 words) Essay
John Locke
To possess this property in common, every individual in the society should be accorded with the right to that property. Therefore, an individual has to have a way of earning all of his properties, in order to possess individual property which is to be used by only by a sole individual.
3 pages (750 words) Essay
John Locke Essay
A study of his life and works will go a long way in understanding the role his ideas played in the growth and development of the constitution of the United States of America. Locke was born at Wrington, in Somerset. He received a diverse education, first at the Westminster school for Boys and later at Christ Church in Oxford.
5 pages (1250 words) Essay
Hobbes and Locke
In the First Part: Of Man, Hobbes' philosophy is built in the manner of a geometrical proof. He observes that the universe is a "plenum" filled with material bodies. The innate condition of mankind and the state of nature here is essentially brutal and it is a "war of every man against every man," (Hobbes, 79) in which one continually seeks to annihilate the other.
2 pages (500 words) Essay
Augustine and of William of Okhan (nationalism) Locke had written A Letter Concerning on Toleration as early as 1666, but it never saw the light during his lifetime. In 1685, when events in France turned his thoughts to the question of toleration, Locke wrote a letter to a Dutch minister, Limborch.
7 pages (1750 words) Book Report/Review
John Locke
From his early childhood, Locke was inspired by the ideals of his Puritanical father. Locke was a keen observer and a fast learner and had a deep interest in exploring philosophical and Biblical questions. From 1646 to 1652, Locke studied at the Westminster School in London.
6 pages (1500 words) Essay
Analysis: writings by John Locke
“Chapter Nine: Of the Ends of Political Society and Government” examines the sole source of power and legitimacy of the state and
4 pages (1000 words) Essay
Comments (0)
Click to create a comment
Let us find you another Essay on topic Locke on the state for FREE!
Contact us:
Contact Us Now
FREE Mobile Apps:
  • About StudentShare
  • Testimonials
  • FAQ
  • Blog
  • Free Essays
  • New Essays
  • Essays
  • The Newest Essay Topics
  • Index samples by all dates
Join us:
Contact Us