Interpreting Locke.doc

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Political Science
POL 1201
Elizabeth Beaumont

Interpreting Locke Classical Liberal Readings • Locke advances a valuable theory of natural freedom and equality and life, liberty, and property that is potentially "universalizable" and emphasizes human liberty tied to individualism, primacy of natural and civil rights (especially property rights), and limited government • He rejects absolutism and tyranny and its logic of "divine right" or unlimited and discretionary power and instead identifies respect for individual rights as the only rational or legitimate basis for organizing politics and law • The 2nd Treatise contributes the basic framework for a political philosophy that ◦ makes individual liberty the primary social and political value ◦ provides a justification for revolution against tyrants Marxist Readings • Locke advances a problematic theory of "possessive individualism" that justifies unlimited accumulation ◦ He promotes a type of individuality and set of legal and political structures inextricable tied to property and therefore only realized by some (members of property-owning classes) (at the expense of others) ◦ His "social contract" is, at its core, a contract for government to protect private property above all Post-Colonial Readings • Emphasize Locke's personal and professional interests in colonization, conquest of America, and slave trade as either evidence of his hypocrisy or his "true interests": ◦ Brought shares in Royal African Company, the major slave-trading company created by King James and London merchan
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