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Locke's Notion of Reason and Limited Government

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Essay title: Locke's Notion of Reason and Limited Government

Locke's Notion of Reason and Limited Government

According to Locke, Reason is an objective and universal notion that guides all human being to behave in accordance with God's will. This notion of reason is fundamental to Locke's ideas of equality, freedom, self and political society. Reason is not only the basis for the natural equality of all men but also a moral law that says that all men have natural freedom to do whatever they want without encroaching upon the freedom of others. In addition, Reason is consistent with God's command for mankind to be industrious and productive. Locke posits that an individual in the state of nature enters a political society to protect his property by giving consent to abide by the law. The government's job then is limited to regulation for the preservation of its subjects and order, leaving things like moral issues and religious beliefs in the private realm. Therefore, Locke's ideas of the government's interference with what seem to be private matters in Poor Law seems incompatible with, if not contradictory to, his ideas of limited government and the negative notion of freedom. This paper attempts to reconcile the two contrasting scopes of government and concludes that although they may be reconcilable, there is no guarantee that limited government will be the end.

In the State of Nature, everyone is equal in that "all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another" (8). Everyone has the same law, Natural Law, or Reason. Natural Law is intelligible and plain to a rational creature because it is more sensible than "fancies and intricate contrivances of men" (12). Locke believes that Reason teaches all mankind that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions (9). Accordingly, there is no subordination among people in the state of nature. Although Locke admits that age, virtue, or alliance may place some people above others, all men have equal right to natural freedom without being subjected to the will or authority of another man (31).

According to Locke, law of reason provides a moral guide for people to behave with their natural freedom: it tells not what we will do, but what we ought to do. The law of nature teaches that man has unlimited liberty to dispose of his possessions, yet he has not the liberty to destroy himself, or any creature in his possession. People should preserve themselves, and when their own survival is not at stake, behave in order to preserve the rest of mankind (9). Locke's notion of reason provides ethical constraint not to commit

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