Phil10006 Locke 1.doc - The Social Contract Theorists Lecture 3 Locke and human nature Locke\u2019s Objective Legitimacy and natural rights \u2022 Locke\u2019s

Phil10006 Locke 1.doc - The Social Contract Theorists...

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The Social Contract Theorists Lecture 3 Locke and human nature Locke’s Objective Legitimacy and natural rights Locke’s objective is to prove that there is such a thing as a legitimate state. By legitimate, Locke means a state that respects people’s ‘natural rights.’ Natural rights are rights that accrue to people naturally in virtue of their being human. Ergo, a political state does not provide us with rights; a political state protects our rights (an illegitimate state, therefore, is one in which our natural rights are not protected). The State of Nature and Natural Rights Locke in agreement with Hobbes Like Hobbes, Locke starts with an account of the state of nature: a situation in which no central, coordinating coercive power exists to regulate our collective lives. Men are in a state of ‘perfect freedom’ in the state of nature (p4): a state of liberty, not of ‘license.’ Also, men are equal: ‘nothing more in evidence, than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal amongst another without subordination or subjection’ (p4). Locke’s Natural Laws The state of nature is not a state of license because life in the state of nature is governed by natural laws: natural laws are laws that men ought to observe, although they sometimes fail to. Natural laws are discoverable by reason. The law of nature is : ‘no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions’ (p6). Its objective is the ‘preservation of all mankind’.

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