Sir Francis Masham and his wife, Damaris, had invited Locke to spend his last years at Oates, their red brick Gothic-style manor house in North Essex, about 25 miles from London. In 1649, rebels beheaded Charles I. This convinced Tories, as English defenders of royal absolutism were known, to embrace Whig ideas of rebellion. He was a physician who long lacked traditional credentials and had just one patient. Locke says individuals have a duty to respect the property (and lives and liberties) of others even in the state of nature, a duty he traces to natural law. Then Locke affirmed an explicit right to revolution: whenever the Legislators endeavor to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common Refuge, which God hath provided for all Men, against Force and Violence. Thanks to Shaftesbury, Locke was nominated for the Royal Society, where he mingled with some of London’s most fertile minds. He might want us to think, as some Locke scholars have argued, that he is a traditional natural law thinker, while conveying a secret, “esoteric” teaching based squarely on Hobbes’s individual right instead. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1656, then continued work toward a master of arts and taught rhetoric and Greek. For example, Locke opposed government regulation of interest rates: The first thing to be considered is whether the price of the hire of money can be regulated by law; and to that, I think generally speaking that ’tis manifest that it cannot. Academic Content. He waged war for years against England and Holland—France had a population around 20 million, about four times larger than England and 10 times larger than Holland. Charles’s brother became King James II, who began promoting Catholicism in England. In October 1656, Locke wrote a letter expressing approval that Quakers—whom he called “mad folks”—were subject to restrictions. Locke moved out of Oxford, checked on country property he had inherited from his father, then fled to Rotterdam September 7. In many ways, natural law theory is perfectly situated to provide an objective, solid basis for criticism. No. Another interpretation of Locke as natural law thinker. In the beginning of the Second Treatise, Locke seems to claim that the state of nature is a place of peace and harmony. [2] See Second Treatise of Government, Ch. Accordingly, Locke moved into a room at Cooper’s Exeter House mansion in London. What is Locke’s view? He also worked on a “letter” advocating religious toleration except for atheists (who wouldn’t swear legally binding oaths) and Catholics (loyal to a foreign power). This is the philosophy on which the American Constitution and all Western political systems today are based. James II summoned English forces, but they were badly split between Catholics and Protestants. This makes property more or less useless in Hobbes’s state of nature. Locke welcomed the 1660 restoration of the Stuart monarchy and subsequently wrote two tracts that defended the prerogative of government to enforce religious conformity. If the fundamental moral fact is the individual’s right to “look out for number one,” where would a duty to respect others come from? That there is a natural right, existing beyond any civic law, that offenders against our bodies and property demands punishment. He staffed the army with Catholic officers. When he set out to develop his ideas, he was an undistinguished Oxford scholar. This being undeniably true, the state has its basis: the idea of an objective entity that can judge disputes between two self-interested parties. This is probably the greatest controversy in Locke interpretation today. Locke established that private property is absolutely essential for liberty: “every Man has a Property in his own Person. He denounced tyranny. In this case, the citizens are entitled to defend their natural rights and liberties by resisting the government in breach of its trust and even they are allowed to use force, if the situation so demands. He objected to government schools. John Locke is one of the founders of “liberal” political philosophy, the philosophy of individual rights and limited govern­ment. The Founding Fathers, in the Declaration of Independence, speak of both natural rights and natural laws. This is the deepest controversy in Locke interpretation today, a controversy that is sometimes acrimonious. SAMPLE. In Holland, Locke worked on his masterpiece, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which urged people to base their convictions on observation and reason. Locke wrote his friend Robert Boyle, the chemist: “They quietly permit one another to choose their way to heaven; and I cannot observe any quarrels or animosities amongst them on account of religion.”. Eight years later, the Civil War broke out, and Locke’s father briefly served as a captain in the Parliamentary army. To help assure his anonymity, he dealt with the printer through his friend Edward Clarke. It loaned money to the government in exchange for gaining a monopoly on dealing in gold bullion, bills of exchange, and currency. This means there is a metaphysical reality, the existence of law that exists over and above the actual acts and functions of any specific society. It seems incredible that Locke, of all people, could have influenced individuals around the world. 5. Grant, Ruth W, John Locke’s Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 1987). “Reason, which is that Law,” Locke declared, “teache… Jim Powell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is an expert in the history of liberty. 9, §123. This is the philosophy on which the American Constitution and all Western political systems today are based. Shaftesbury retained Locke to analyze toleration, education, trade, and other issues, which spurred Locke to expand his knowledge. JOHN LOCKE and the NATURAL LAW and NATURAL RIGHTS TRADITIONSteven Forde, University of North Texas. Locke sailed on the same ship as the soon-to-be Queen Mary, arriving in London, February 11, 1689. He told people he was in Holland because he enjoyed the local beer. He went beyond the Toleration Act (1689), specifically calling for toleration of Anabaptists, Independents, Presbyterians, and Quakers. Here, then, is the issue in the natural law–natural right dichotomy: if individual right is primary, can individuals have any duty to respect the rights of others? They drew the clearest possible line beyond which neither a ruler, nor a majority, nor a bureaucrat, nor anyone else in government could legitimately go. toleration for Catholics, Calvinists, and Lutherans. He explained that market action follows natural laws and that government intervention is counterproductive. If a Heathen doubt of both Testaments, he is not therefore to be punished as a pernicious Citizen. Within a month, James II fled to France. can send it to you via email. He challenged the traditional doctrine that learning consisted entirely of reading ancient texts and absorbing religious dogmas. These are questions that should send us back to Hobbes, Locke, and the architects of the American Constitution. Meanwhile, Charles II had converted to Catholicism before he died in February 1685. The mission failed, but the experience was a revelation. Such an attack was risky since it could easily be prosecuted as an attack on King Charles II. Consequently, the only way to stop Stuart absolutism was rebellion. In some respects, the concept of natural can be defined this way: that virtue exists over and above either the ethics of pleasure or self preservation (Seliger, 1963, 338). It depends on people taking seriously their duty to respect the rights of others. This led him to further explore the issues by writing early drafts of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke’s claim is that individuals have a duty to respect the rights of others, even in the state of nature. Locke fired up George Mason. [3] We have duties to others in Hobbes’s social contract, but those duties come from the contract, not from nature. One of the great debates of scholarship surrounding Locke is his “natural law” or law of nature theory. When individuals violated government laws like usury laws restricting interest rates, Locke blamed government for enacting the laws. King Charles II elevated him to the peerage—he became Lord Ashley, then the Earl of Shaftesbury—and joined the King’s Privy Council. One characteristic of a rights theory is that it takes man to be by nature a solitary and independent creature, as in Hobbes’s “state of nature.” In Hobbes’s state of nature, men are free and independent, having a right to pursue their own self-interest, and no duties to one another.