Locke Overview and Historical Context.doc

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Political Science
POL 1201
Elizabeth Beaumont

Locke Overview Enlightenment, Civil Wars, and Glorious Revolution Key themes • The state of nature and human nature • the state of war • slavery and conquest • private property rights • social contract as origin of real political society ◦ consent theory of government: express and tacit • Ends of government: Protection of individual rights to life, liberty, property through impartial rule of law and limited constitution • Right to revolution Historical Context • Enlightenment • England's religiously and politically influenced Civil wars of 1640s (Locke's father fought for the Parliamentary Army) • Britain's expansion and conquest as a commercial and military empire, including Royal Africa Company and slave trade, colonization of north America, British East India company • Challenges to absolutism of Stuart Kings and fears of their presumed pro-Catholicism • 1632-1704: raised a Puritan, though his precise religious views are disputed. Trained as a physician • Became an advisor to Lord Shaftesbury, foremost Parliamentary and Whig leader • Appointed to Board of Trade, the governmental body regulating colonies in 1696-1700. Invested in Royal Africa Company and helped write colonial constitution of Carolina • Not a "democrat" but favored parliamentary representation and opposed royal absolutism • Succession crisis of 1681 when Charles II sought to secure the throne for his brother, James II, a Catholic, which Parliament opposed ◦ Shaftesbury and Locke both involved in plots; Shaftesbury imprisoned and Locke is exiled to Holland • When James II became king, Glorious Revolution of 1688 challenged him • Locke anonymously publishes "The Two Treatises on Government" in 1689, but various portions were written earlier • James and his supporters defeated at Battle of Boyne, 1690. William and Mary assume the Crown, agreeing to limits identified by Parliament • Historical Context The Enlightenment Era • Criticism of traditional authority, institutions and beliefs, especially religion, based on
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