Locke 1 - Locke 1 April 7 2008 page 1 outline Locke pp 1-18...

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Locke 1 April 7, 2008 page 1 outline: Locke pp. 1-18 I) background II) The State of Nature: a) Locke: definition of political b) State of Nature c) equality in the State of Nature d) Duties and Rights in the State of Nature III) The Argument that Absolute Monarchy cannot be legitimate: State of War and Slavery; Inalienable Rights 1) Background: Why are we reading Locke? Who is he? An English POLITICAL PHILOSOPHER (a generation after Hobbes) (Locke born 1632--died 1704) whose thought was central to the theoretical basis of American democracy. The ideological forbear of people like /Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, etc. Locke overlapped with Hobbes, who was about a generation earlier. England had had a tumultuous 17 th century, with kings being executed, etc. Alternatives to absolute monarchy were in the air. Antiquity supplied alternative models to monarchy in Greek democracy and the Roman Republic. The Netherlands, since 1581 had been a republic. The bases of political legitimacy and religious authority were being questioned on many fronts. a) Locke is an early thinker in the European questioning of authority and subordination: the thesis that some people are naturally subordinate to others For countless millennia, subordination was a fact of life: existing hierarchies were perceived as part of the order of nature, just part of the way things are. Subordination and authority came under increasing attack in renaissance Europe, from a variety of fronts: Luther, starting in 1517, successfully challenged the authority of the Catholic Church, setting off the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. In England and the Netherlands, especially, political authority was coming under increasing question, from the political turmoils of the English 17 th century. The Netherlands had been a republic since 1581, when they rebelled against Spain. subordination successively under question: 1) kings and nobles / COMMONS 2) Property-owning men/ POOR 3) white men /NON-WHITE 4) men / WOMEN
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Locke 1 April 7, 2008 page 2 5) adults / children 6) humans/ non-human animals Most of these subordinations have appeared absolutely natural to the vast majority of civilizations at the vast majority of times. Two of them will probably strike you as absolutely natural. Animals, for instance, are obviously worth less than humans. So, what about earlier cultures. Were they immoral? You shouldn’t think of an ancient Roman, for instance, as necessarily a mean person because he thought that nobles were naturally dominant over commoners and men were naturally dominant over women. A kindly Roman did not despise women and commoners, but would feel a kindly protectiveness, perhaps. To an ancient Roman, the subordination would have a basis in nature, the way things are. So, just as we would justify our “domination” of children by the objective fact that children tend to make unwise decisions for themselves in many matters (diet, bedtime, when they can drive the car at age 9, etc.) so an ancient Roman would justify his domination of his wife and
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Locke 1 - Locke 1 April 7 2008 page 1 outline Locke pp 1-18...

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