John Locke · Social Theorists

John Locke


John Locke was the first reasonable philosopher, and social scientist to massively working on human reason and understanding. He made the clear statement in his treatise that men are born free and equal. He expressed the need for a common superior, but did not necessarily believe the superior to be a king; but proposed that the collective consent would have the power to assign that superior. He proposes the concept of civil society and how it is formed. He also talks about common and private property and the community as the reservoir of the common property.

Unlike Hobbes, Locke has resolved the complexities of who the sovereign is, but still his ideas upon property and how much of it should be defined as private or communal is ambiguous and not crystal clear.

Here is a summary list of Locke’s major theories (my notes from the podcast called “Foundations of Modern Social Theory”):

His major theories:

  • We are born free and equal;
  • To avoid war we need a common superior;
  • The common superior has to be chosen by the collective consent;
  • Individuals should submit to the superior to guarantee property protection;
  • The person in political power has the right to make law, execute the law, and defend the commonwealth against outside enemies;
  • Man owns his self (can decide for himself), and the product of his labor;
  • Man can own as much as he can tilt (there are no limits to his private property)
  • Nevertheless property belongs to the industrious (those who work harder); the more and harder you work, the more you will gain
  • Constitutional monarchy –> the only legitimate monarchy, where the monarch is chosen by collective consent;
  • Powers in a society have to be separated into legislative, executive, federative.

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