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POLS 2900 Jan. 22- Locke.doc

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York University
Political Science
POLS 2900
Stephen Newman

1 POLS 2900 Tuesday, January 22, 2013 LOCKE’S SECOND TREATISE The State of Nature • The way Hobbes talks about the state of nature changes from chapter II to chapter IX • Locke refutes the absence of private property. He refutes that there is no private property and that the king owns it. Locke argues that God gave property to everyone. He argues that we do have a right as all others to enjoy nature’s abundance. But each person has their own right to enjoy the fruits of their own labour. E.g. anyone can pick an apple from an apple tree. But only the person who did the picking is entitled to the apple that he has picked. It is the labour that distinguishes the common from private. It is my apple because I picked it from the tree. • One can only take what one can make use of. It does not make sense to take more than you can use. What is the point of hording them if they will rot before you can use them? In Locke’s language, the right thing to do is also the convenient thing to do. In other words, the right thing to do coincides with what a rational, self-interested person would do. Then, there could be little quarrels about the rules established. • The law of nature says: 1) you cannot take more than you can use 2) you should not take more because the nature belongs to everyone and not just you – leave some for everyone else Private Property and Money • The invention of money made all the difference in history • There is a virtue of having gold and silver coins- they are imperishable. That means we can horde money without violating natural law. It will never rot and you will never run afoul of the spoilage limitation. • A money economy means that a person can buy a hundred acres, plant and grow food. Whatever the person does not need, he can sell it for money. He can then use the money to buy more land, grow more food and sell it for more money. • Nature, which had been a common stock for everyone, is closed and privatized for certain people. For those without land, who are denied access to the commons because the commons have disappeared, must work for wages. They must then use those wages to purchase goods for their lives and livelihood. • Locke: the closing of the commons actually increases the supply of goods in the world. If you had to wander through the forests for your dinner, it would take longer and be harder than purchasing it from the market. He argues that you now have more stuffs than before. So even the poor, who work for a wage, have access to more and better stuff than before. A working man is better fed, better clothed and better housed than a prince in one of the Indian tribes in North America. He means to say that this money and materials economy is better for everyone than the state of nature is for even the ric
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