Unit 1 – Locke’s Thoughts on Authority and Free Will

  1. “Every one has a right to punish the transgressors of the law to such a degree as may hinder its violation. For the law of Nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world, be in vain if there were nobody that in the state of Nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders; and if any one in the state of Nature may punish another for any evil he has done, every one may do so. For in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another, what any may do in prosecution of the law, every one must needs have a right to do.” (Locke Chapter 2 paragraph 5)
  2. I chose John Locke’s section on how you have the right to hold your government accountable, because they should not be the ones telling you from right or wrong because I had trouble understanding how every single person of any class or race can even attempt to hold their government accountable (and also difference in degree of “holding accountability”). I think Locke’s example of the law of Nature and its punishment of the transgressors of the law informs his more significant claim of his idea of free will under a statute. Locke believes in the importance of freedom of choice. He states that regulations are necessary to protect the free will of others and that it justifies having an overarching authority. Locke contemplates that if every man was in a state of perfect equality where there is not any superiority of one another that everyone has the right to do what is right. Locke believed that in the state of Nature, one man always has authority over another.  In our discussion in class, I connected Locke to our question about power structures and identity. Comparing Locke’s idea of holding your government accountable to free will, I noticed that Locke believed that the government is not necessary, but holding others accountable is essential.

I wrote this post before my first paper, in which i talked about Locke’s opinion on slavery. I wanted to add parts of my paper to this post because with a deeper analysis. In Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, he expresses his beliefs on the state of nature. Locke looks at man as all equal and believes that man lives in perfect freedom. He even states that no one should have more power than another. In a separate chapter, Of Property, Locke talks about how a man has property of his body and his labor. This is especially confusing compared to the passage from Two Treatises. Locke’s belief in humans seems to be somewhat hypocritical because the problematic passage contradicts Locke’s previous message that all men are equal. The passage by Locke seems to allow slavery and the ability to have power over another man.

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