Robert J. England II
HON 211 – David Gross
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I am struck by how important basic trust appears to be in John Locke’s theories
on the proper forms of government.
Second Treatise of Government
promoted civil, democratic government as a proper, natural way of governing over
In doing so, Locke argued against Thomas Hobbes, who used the same
arguments to promote full, tyrannical government.
Professor Steve Cohn, in his lecture
on this text, mentioned that the reason Locke proposed democracy instead of tyranny was
Locke’s belief that people would trust each other enough to not request the full control
that tyranny delivered.
This basic trust, or lack of trust, forms an important separation
between the two systems of government, and plays an important part in our politics
The thought process that Hobbes used was the “state of nature” argument for
If, all of a sudden, the government of a society was completely removed,
and the people had to organize a brand new government completely from scratch, what
form would this government take?
According to Hobbes, the people, possessing reason,
would suddenly realize that they could not trust any other individuals with anything, least
of all their lives and security.
Following this line of thought, the people would
“naturally” choose a tyrannical form of government, one that would exercise complete