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Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government

John Locke

Questions for Study

Chapters 18-19: Of Tyranny, and Of the Dissolution of Government

Bibliography

Does Locke's concern with protection of property as one of the central purposes of civil society contradict his work in defense of universal human rights?

What appear to be the assumptions about human nature on which Locke bases his depiction of the state of nature? Be sure to use examples from the text to support your arguments.

Using the Second Treatise and the US Constitution, describe some ideas that the Constitution seems to borrow from Locke; discuss ideas that deviate from his philosophy as well.

Discuss the implications and problems of applying Locke's ideas to international relations. This may require some research on modern political theory.

Libertarians often cite John Locke as a great inspiration behind their ideology. Do you agree or disagree with this claim? Again, you might want to inform your answer with additional reading and research, perhaps including the works of Ayn Rand).

Based on passages from the Second Treatise, how do you feel John Locke uses the Bible to support his arguments. What seems to be John Locke's own relationship to scripture as a basis for political arguments?

John Locke is perhaps most famous for his theory of the tabula rasa, (the infant's "blank slate" state, free from good or evil). How is this idea important to his Second Treatise?

Discuss the risks associated with Locke's allowance of executive privelege. Do you feel his theories adequately defend against these risks?

Discuss the difference between paternal society and political society, as Locke sees it, and explain how paternal society can in fact turn into a form of political society.

Who does Locke's theory of money's origin benefit the most? By retracing the theory from its origin in natural rights, describe the assumptions behind each step, and the result of the theory that results.

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The Preservation of Property

by readingthegreat, July 25, 2013

Throughout the essay, Locke stresses the key reason for the formation of a governmental system: the preservation of property. This becomes his pseudo-mantra that he often returns to while making a point about usurpation, despotism, or tyranny. If the government is designed by the people to first and foremost protect their property, then it makes sense that Locke’s closing words would include the statement, “the end of government is the good of mankind.” This preservation of property is Locke’s explanation for why a group of people wo... Read more

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