paper1 - In Second Treatise of Government Locke attempts to...

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In Second Treatise of Government , Locke attempts to explain the origins of private property. He begins by stating the land and resources were initially owned by everyone. Then, he argues, man used his labor to take land out of the commons and make it his private property. Locke’s thoughts on property invoke a few important contradictions. In this paper, I will first discuss the nature of these contradictions and then go on to discuss their basis. I will then explain how Locke solves these problems. While the contradictions appear problematic for Locke’s defense of private property, they are easily overcome through further analysis of the text. I will be discussing two problems with Locke’s discussion on private property. The first is how private property can come from communal property. It seems that if everything belongs to everyone, then in order to claim something as your own, you would have to have the permission of everyone. Since this seems to be impossible, then it seems to follow that you cannot acquire private property. The second problem is how acquiring unequal amounts of property can be justified. It seems that if everyone is naturally equal, than everyone should be entitled an equal portion of land and resources. Locke, however, does not appear to claim this and thus suggests unequal private property is just. Locke’s thoughts on property defend and explain how private property came to be. He first argues that in the beginning, natural resources belonged to “mankind in common” (Locke 18). Man needs natural resources to survive. Therefore, man must have access to these resources. Since all are equal the only way for man to have access to these resources is if all men have a right to everything. However, this seems problematic because if everything belongs to everyone, how can anyone claim
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ownership over anything without everyone’s consent? It’s seems obviously contradictory that communal ownership can lead to private ownership of land and resources. Another apparent problem in Locke’s discussion is the idea of natural equality.
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course PHIL 410 taught by Professor - during the Spring '08 term at Arizona.

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paper1 - In Second Treatise of Government Locke attempts to...

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