POL200Y5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 21: Legislature, Free Free, Thomas Hobbes

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23 Mar 2017
Pol200 Lecture: Locke, Second Treatise, Chapters 15
I. Introduction
A. Reading Locke
Social contract theorist that modifies Hobbes’ work
Responds to 3 different problems that are interrelated
B. A Response to Hobbes
Doesn’t mention Hobbes at all
He says one thing that makes us infer he is replying to Hobbes in the second treatise
Locke lobbies for limited gov’t rather than absolute gov’t like Hobbes
When resistance to gov’t is necessary
Hobbes: There is not right to rebellion
Locke: this idea that we can’t rebel against the gov’t is t think that men are so foolish…
o Means that individuals who don’t even trust themselves would place all their trust
in an all powerful sovereign for their interests
For Locke, gov’t must be understood as an instrument for life, liberty, and a state
Only legitimate reason for gov’t is the protection for the rights of individuals
Locke says individuals have inalienable rights that gov’ts need to protect and cannot go
C. A Response to a Political Crisis in England
Similar to how Hobbes was responding to a civil war
English revolution of 1688
Idea of rebellion to gov’t leads us to Locke’s second response
1642 a quarrel broke out between parliament and monarchy which led to civil war
Civil war is about the clash of powers relies on the interests of individuals coming
together to find peace
1653-1658 Crommel
1660 monarchy was restored under Charles II
o His reign lasted without major incident
o When Charless II died, James II succeeded him, problem was that he was a
catholic that wanted to reestablish religion, struggle between James II and
parliament, James II had to flee, parliament brought William Orange to rule,
became the Glorious revolution (glorious because it was little bloodshed)
Locke’s work was read for a long time as a defense for Glorious revolution
1679 and 1681 was actually when it was written which was when parliament was trying
to exclude James II to become king in the first place
o Advocating the rebellion
Second Treatise is a response to Hobbes and the crisis that culminated into the Glorious
revolution, but it is also a response to Robert Filmer
D. A Response to Sir Robert Filmer
The First Treatise is a long polemic written against Robert Filmer (Filmer wrote book
called the Patriarcha monarchical gov’t based on the descent of Adam “divine right” –
premiere theorist of the crown/monarchy arguing that the monarchy has legitimate rule)
o Locke wrote the First Treatise against Filmer’s position
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Locke sums up his position by saying 3 things: no mention of God giving Adam the
world to govern, but even if there were mention of it, there is no mention of God giving
Adam’s descendants the world to govern, but even if there were mention of this, there is
no way that current Kings can define their descent to Adam
o Base of gov’t is not a gift from God
o But if it isn’t a gift from God, then what is the basis of legitimate gov’t? pre-
consent of the gov’t (contract, through an agreement)
E. Locke and Political Power: life, liberty, and a state
Definition of political power (paragraph 3): I take it to be a right of making laws with
penalties of death and all less penalties with regulating and preserving property, wealth
… for the common good
Political power is right, right to make laws including laws with penalties of death
1 Legislative power/ legislative right right to make laws
2 Right to use the form of community to execute these laws
3 right to wage wars against other states to protect the community
Political power is a rightful power for making and executing laws all for the public good
Where does this right come from? state of nature
Locke then speaks of the state of nature, rights that we had before we instituted the gov’t
Steps he will take (by defining): State of nature, state of war, contract, establishment of
political society/ gov’t
o Following same line of argument as Hobbes with modified definitions
II. Of the State of Nature
A. The State of Nature: A Condition of freedom and Equality
A state of nature (absence of gov’t) is begun with a condition of freedom and equality
to be human for Locke is to be free
Free in what way?
Individuals are not bound by any political relationships, no one has the right to tell others
had they should act and dispose of their positions, no one telling you what to do
But not only are we free in the state of nature, we are also equal
If everyone is free, then everyone is equal
If in a state of nature I can’t tell you what to do and you can’t tell me what to do, this
makes us equal, I don’t have power over you and you don’t have power over me
o We are talking about equality in terms of equality
The limit to our freedom, however, is that we are bound by the laws of nature
B. The State of Nature: Governed by the Law of Nature
Paragraph 6: but though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license… not at
the liberty to destroy himself or anything in his possession…
He is moving away from Hobbes’ state of nature because Locke wants limited gov’t
State of liberty, but not a state of license = meaning we are free, but not to do anything
we want
For Locke, the state of nature has laws to govern
We cannot destroy anyone else because it is not our right to do so
Appealing to our reason helps us find law that binds us all
2 imperatives:
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