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POLI 231 Lecture Notes - Noel Pemberton Billing, Limited Government, Justification For The State

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 231
Arash Abizadeh

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January 18th
4 main questions:
1) How do people in the state of nature come to own things?
- Locke answers this with his theory of property
2) What makes a government legitimate?
- Answers with the social contract theory
3) How should the state be organized?
- Constitutional government
4) What is the proper relationship between ruler and government?
- One of trust, based on consent
Before society, there was the state of nature
Locke believes there is no natural form of political rule- in the state of nature there are no
formal politics, so all political society must be artificial
The state of nature is marked by 2 factors:
1) Humans are free to act as we see fit to preserve ourselves
2) we are equal (no natural authority)
Locke says that political rule requires consent to be legitimate
If we are naturally free in the state of nature, why would we ever want to leave it to enter into
political society?
- In the state of nature, there is freedom, but the enjoyment of it and our property is
insecure (Note: property encompasses life, liberty, and estate)
3 additional features of the state of nature:
1) No common law which is manmade
2) No impartial judge to judicate disputes
3) No common executive
The state of nature does, however, have a human community, with a natural law which governs
everyone. Everyone knows intuitively what these natural laws are- they exist independently of
anyone agreeing to them. Everyone is an executor in this state- a sort of vigilante society where
everyone has the right to execute the laws of nature
People are not so desperate to leave the state of nature as Hobbes thinks, because people have
the capacity for moral reasoning and won’t accept just any political society which will secure
their property- Locke says we will accept limited government to standardize law
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