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Second Treatise on Government

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Second Treatise on Government


The article Second Treatise on Government addresses the state of nature, the state of war, the state of slavery, and the state of property. Author, John Locke clearly addresses the attributes of each of the previously listed properties; however, most clearly defends the state of nature, and the state of property.

The following will discuss the state of nature, “In this state men are perfectly free to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and themselves, in any way they like, without asking anyone’s permission.” According to Locke, we must understand what state men are naturally in, in order to properly understand political power. The analysis below will elaborate on Locke’s view on the state of nature, and address Locke’s stance on the government in comparison to the state of nature.


John Locke explains the state of nature to be directly related to a state of equality. Everyone is born the same, unless god creates a person with undoubted ways, then everyone should be treated the same. Locke inserts Richard Hooker’s point of view into the article because he believes equality of men is obvious, and unquestionable through mens responsibility to love one another, and “maxim” of justice and charity. “Things that are equal must be measured by a single standard;” (Hooker, p3) Thus, one can not be certain that their desires will be satisfied if they are not willing to ensure the desires of other men. Hence, if one does harm, it should be expected that they anticipate harm on themselves; because, if everyone is equal one person should not be able to do harm, and not expect that harm done back. Being that in a state of nature everyone is held to the same standard, if anyone is allowed to punish a person for doing wrong, then everyone should.

However, through reparation, and restraint lawful punishment is permitted which is how one man is allowed to have authorized power over another. Locke continues to support his view on the law of nature by informing his readers on the two basic rights. The first basic right, is to restrain the criminal to avoid similar incidents in the future, and the second is the right for any wounded person receive reparation. In addition, a man named Cain murdered his brother according to Locke, and stated “‘anyone who finds me will slay me’”. This implies Cain believes in the law of nature to the fullest extinct being that he wanted man to harm him because he had harmed man. Furthering, Locke points out common objections to his clause; however, he refutes them by stating, “all men are naturally in a state of nature, and remain so until they consent to make themselves members of some political society.”


I agree with John Locke's view on the state of nature creating everyone equal, therefore not one person should be able to have more power than another. In the article Locke states, “ I challenge them to explain what right any king or state has to put death or otherwise punish a foreigner for a crime he commit in their country.” The reasoning was that the foreigners lack knowledge of the laws so how can they be held fully accountable if they don't feel it’s necessary to listen. I believe Locke made a strong point here considering the foreigners may be in the country legally, and they are human like the people native to that country; therefore, their crimes should be treated according to the crime, not their country of origin. In addition to the action of death as a consequence, Locke deemes each punishment to be made extreme enough to give reason to ask for forgiveness, and to ensure others won't do

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