Locke | English homework help

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     As a result of having a different perspective than Thomas Hobbes and the state of nature, John Locke also views the need for enacting a social contract differently. Locke did not see humans as warring in a state of nature as Hobbes had. Instead, Locke’s state of nature could be explained as a perfect place where people had the freedom to choose their own paths in life so long as it did not infringe upon others.

 Locke viewed people as being kind toward one another as a result of the Law of Nature, which was a result of virtues from God. Under the Law of Nature, people were equal and would be treated as such because of their morals stemming from their belief in God. By the same token, Locke acknowledged that having liberty in the state of nature was not synonymous with a “license” to do what we pleased, as, “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions…”(Locke, section 6). Only when a man has done something wrong can another man have power over him in the state of nature and this power cannot be used excessively, and only using calm reason and conscience (Locke, section 8)

Locke also understood the need for private property for men. Private property was the combining of a person using his (her) own labor along with the natural resources in nature to produce something. When a person used their abilities to produce something, they should have the right to that final product. However, a person could not claim more than what should be considered their own “fair share.” In other words, owning excessive private property would now breach the Law of Nature. Because of the desire for private property and the want to maintain it, men would give up the freedom of the state of nature, relying upon a government for protection.

To me, Locke’s state of nature is more in line with my own thinking. People are not naturally evil and warring, but instead more virtuous, whether stemming from beliefs in God, their own upbringing, or just naturally moral. As a result, the only need for people to enter into a social contract is to settle disputes and not for self preservation as Hobbes suggested.

Although I accept (interpret?) the notions of a state of nature from both Locke and Hobbes as theoretical, Locke’s description seems closer to what I understand as reality. His description of the importance of property is not only unique from Hobbes’, but also makes sense. People “like their things” and do not want them taken away. This seems very natural in society today. Locke’s views were instrumental not only in our “re-establishment” of the state of nature when the American colonists declared their independence, but was also instrumental in the writing of the Bill of Rights.



Locke view of the state of nature is that mankind is “a state of perfect and complete liberty to conduct one’s life as one best sees fit, free from the interference of others (iep.utm.edu).” In other words people are born free to do as they please, as long as they follow moral laws & conduct themselves in manner not causing harm to others. Locke saw man as being equal to one another, having the right to defend themselves from their aggressor.

The reason Locke saw property as a natural right is because, a person who works for a living builds & creates products from the earth of their own doing is the rightful owner of the particular land. Because they took advantage of all the resources God had made available to them. But Locke also emphasized that a person should not take more than they needed “one is not allowed to take more from nature than one can use, thereby leaving others without enough for themselves ((iep.utm.edu).” With property being a natural right Locke’s view of the state of nature all but guarantees one freedom from any sort of oppression, if man are able to defend themselves, own their property, & live in peace surely can live as one see’s fit.

Locke’s & Hobbes differ greatly on their version of state of nature, Locke believed that people should have the right to do as they pleased with absolute liberty as long as they obey moral standings. Being a Philosopher in a time of civil war in the 17th centruy England were the Monarchy was eventually dispose, gave Locke his very liberal ideas.  As for Hobbes  his version of state of nature is, those in civil society should submit themselves to political authority such as King or a one party system in either case both have completed authority over everyone & property. In my opinion I think Hobbes believe that mankind cannot make wise decision, & thus leave it to an absolute authority to make those decisions. These two Locke & Hobbes are different as night & day mainly because of the times of each one of their ideas came to be, the same is the case for their version of a social contract same formula but very different implementation. 



Locke was a social contract theorist. “Locke believed that man was meant for civil society and that the latter must impose limitations on citizens if individual rights are to be protected.” (APUS)Locke’s social contract comes in two stages: a social and a political contract. The first stage is there to make sure a civil society is formed and the second stage ensures that there is a common political authority in order to protect their property.

A contract is needed in order for there to be some sort of following in society of what not to do and what to do. In Locke’s social contract he talks about Civil Society. “…He reasons that men contract and put themselves into civil society to avoid the inconveniences of the state of nature , which pose a perpetually looming threat of a state of war, and ultimately to protect property in person and land.” (APUS) The civil society differs tremendously from Sovereignty, the only purpose that the government has dealing with the civil society is that they protect citizen’s property. Men in civil society give up their natural freedom to gain protection of the laws. The Sovereignty is much different, “For Locke the Sovereign is the law which is fair and equally applied to all equally.” (APUS) In a popular sovereignty the government has limited power and not all your rights are turned over to the government. The Sovereign is ruled by consent of the people and to be ruled by the majority. Basically there is a leader that is put into that position and he represents the “Majority.” With Locke’s view on it the people form together and put together their view and go against the ruler if need be. With popular sovereignty not all rights are turned over to the government. “The relationship between limited government and the citizen is a reciprocal one.” (APUS) I think that this type of sovereignty is directed towards all citizens that feel that their voice or opinion should be heard as long as they abide by the laws of their state.

There are many differences between Locke and Hobbes. Locke looks at things as looking out for the people. Hobbes thought that there should be more of a monarch style ruling where what the ruler says goes and all your rights are turned over to the government. “Men cannot know good and evil, and in consequence can only live in peace together by subjection to the absolute power of a common master, and therefore there can be no peace between kings.” (Jim.Com) Hobbes basically meant that there had to be one master ruler and that the people of society could not get along because they did not know how to act. Locke focused on individual rights and that people should be able to think for themselves. Locke believes that property is the ultimate basis for the terms of his social contract. “While political power enables the state to make laws that bind the whole society in support pf the public good, the state must have limited powers so that it does not threaten the very basic rights of freedom it is supposed to protect.” (APUS)


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