POL200Y5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 22: Individualism, Fiduciary, Legislature

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23 Mar 2017
Locke, Second Treatise, Chapters 619
Private property is important for Locke
He says you have a right to your property before gov’t
Private property emerges very easily from the freedom in the state of nature
Gov’t is established to protect life, liberty and property
Locke is after limited constitutional gov’t, idea that we already have these rights and the
gov’t just comes into the picture to protect them
In this lecture, we will consider:
How gov’t comes out
The limits of gov’t power
What should happen when gov’t exceeds those limits
I. Defining and Establishing Rightful Political Power
A. Paternal and Political Power
After property, Locke wants to distinguish paternal from political power
In all divine monarchical theories, political and paternal power are the same
o Like a relationship between King and subjects: like a father to his children
Chapter on political power is to show that paternal and political power are distinct
Parental power is a limited power bound by the laws of nature and bound by the notions
of reason and freedom, and the power of parents over children only extends to the point
where the children are capable of reason, until they become fully rational creatures until
according to Locke they turn 21 years of age and have their own reason and can use free
will accordingly
o 1) Independent society (commonwealth)
o 2) Gov’t – is a trust
II. Political Society Defined
A. Transferring “Political Power Right”
Political society comes about when individuals in a state of nature quit their original
power to govern themselves individually under the laws of nature, transfer this original
power to the community
When the political powers of the community are established and the common law and
judiciary decide the punishments, you have a commonwealth
Political power is the right to make and execute laws for the sole purpose of regulating
the freedom of life, liberty and property
If politics and gov’t aren’t natural, they come about by the free consent of the free
B. Legitimate Political Power and Consent
Political society/ commonwealth/ community is legitimized through the consent of the
This is something we’d never seen in Aristotle, “giving consent away”
Hobbes says we begin with individuals who have rights
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With the creation of political society, all individual choices become one voice, we must
all obey it
How? The voice is heard through a majority the majority rules political society
Locke’s reasoning: if we were not going to be ruled by majority decision then de facto
everyone would still be in a state of nature with everyone else
o Can’t be unanimous cause then we’d never come up with anything
In other words, there must be some compelling voice to represent the community
Individualism, individual right, consent, majority rule these are the outlines are systems
very familiar in our own society today
Locke will explain: limits of political power and what happens when it is properly and
not properly executed
III. The Ends of Government
A. The Right to Make and Enforce Laws
The rights of law making and enforcement are originally found in the state of nature and
transferred through consent, however the whole process is essential to the preservation of
life, liberty and property
Political society/ commonwealth is the means to a particular and circumscribed end
Chapter 9, 128: in the state of nature, man has 2 powers to do whatever he wants and the
power to punish the crimes committed against that law, these powers are simply
transferred through our consent, individuals transfer their right to preserve their right to
life, liberty and property
The creation of laws are part of our political right that we have transferred, legislative
power is derived from our state of nature/ law of nature
With respect to self-preservation, it is important to know that we don’t surrender our right
to protect ourselves completely
Individuals don’t only transfer their right to self-preservation, but also their right to
punish, this means that you don’t get to go around enforcing the law, so even though you
don’t give up your right to self-preservation but you do give up right to enforce
Our 2 original rights become 2 integral parts of political society
o Legislative body that creates laws, enact rules
o Executive power which is a body that enforces the law
Limits: powers transferred to gov’t can never be extended farther than the common good
B. The Forms of Government
Number of ways we can enforce the powers now transferred to the community
3 forms of gov’t: democracy, aristocracy, monarchy
o A little bit of mixture in between, but these are the main ones
Independent community must the focus
C. Legislative Power is Supreme
Doesn’t matter what form of the 3 gov’ts are chosen so long as the legislative powers are
supreme (he’s basically hedging parliament) can’t just have the executive, must have
legislative to create laws, this is a must to all forms of gov’t
Locke thinks it’s preferable when the members of the legislature aren’t permanent
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