PP 04 Locke and the Justification of Revolution

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GHIST 225: US History
Kevin R. Hardwick
Spring 2012
LECTURE 04
John Locke and the Justification for Revolution
GHIST 225: US History
Kevin R. Hardwick
Spring 2012
LECTURE 04
John Locke and the Justification for Revolution
Part One: Restoration to the Glorious Revolution
Part Two: John Locke and the justification for the
Glorious Revolution
Time Line So Far:
1603 1625 1639-1649 1660 1685 1688
______________________________________________
James I
King
James I
Of
England Dies,
Charles
I King
of
England
English
Civil Wars;
Charles I
executed
Restoration;
Charles II
King of
England
Charles
II Dies,
James II
King of
England
“Glorious
Revolution”
James II
deposed
William of
Orange
King of
England
“These are the Stuarts, hear their names: James and Charles, Charles and James”
Key Idea:
One important outcome of the Glorious Revolution
was that henceforth, England was a Limited Monarchy,
with a Mixed and Balanced Constitution
This is the Constitution against which the American
Colonies rebelled.
Key Idea:
Natural Law: there exists a set of universal principles
governing human conduct, which can be discovered by
human reason. These principles are timeless, and
derive from our common nature as human beings.
Key Idea:
Natural Rights: Derive from natural law, and belong to
us by virtue of our existence as human beings. They
are neither created by nor distributed by the
conventional arrangements of men, but rather come
from God, and they are built into the nature of
existence.
Key Idea:
Natural Rights: Because all just governments must
respect natural rights, these represent 1.) things
government must provide for us (entitlements) or 2.)
things government cannot take from us, ie., limitations
on what government can do.
An example of an entitlement: criminal defendants
have the right to a jury trial
An example of a limitation on government: citizens
cannot be imprisoned unless the government can
show reasonable cause
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
State of Nature: a “condition of perfect equality,
wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no
one having more than another.”
French artist Henri Rousseau, “Exotic
Landscape,” 1910
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
Natural Freedom: the capacity of persons "to order
their actions and dispose of their possessions as they
think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature,
without asking leave or depending upon the will of any
other man."
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
The State of Nature sounds pretty good. So why
would anyone want to leave the state of nature?
“For though the law of nature be plain and intelligible to
all rational creatures, yet men, being biased by their
interest, . . . are not apt to allow of it as a law binding to
them in the application of it to their own particular
cases.”
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
The State of Nature sounds pretty good. So why
would anyone want to leave the state of nature?
“For every one in that state being both judge and
executioner of the law of nature, men being partial to
themselves, passion and revenge is very apt to carry
them too far, and with too much heat in their own cases,
as well as negligence and unconcernedness, make them
remiss in other men's.”
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
Original Compact: the means by which people leave
the state of nature and create an unnatural
government—that is to say, a man-made government.
To do this, we must give up some of our freedom to
interpret the law of nature for ourselves.
And likewise, we must give up some of our equality,
since we delegate the enforcement of the law to other
men.
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
Consent: the Original Compact is premised on the
rational consent of the people party to it.
Government derives its authority not from God, but
rather from the Consent of the People.
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
Reason: Not the fundamental importance of human
reason to Locke’s argument.
"The Freedom then of man, and liberty of acting
according to his own will, is grounded on his having
reason, which is able to instruct him in that law he is to
govern himself by, and make him know how far he is left
to the freedom of his own will."
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
Reason: Another example:
"Absolute Monarchy is indeed inconsistent with civil
society."
Under an Absolute Government, the subject
"has no appeal, as those in society ought to have, but, as
if he were degraded from the common state of rational
creatures, is denied a liberty to judge of, or defend his
right, and so is exposed to all the misery and
inconveniences that a man can fear from one, who being
in the unrestrained state of nature, is yet corrupted with
flattery and armed with power."
Key Ideas in John Locke’s Second Treatise:
Contrast the Absolutism of King James I with the Social
Contract ideas of John Locke.
To James, the people are his subjects.
To Locke, the (adult, male, rational) people are citizens.
Note the degree to which, for Locke, citizenship is
premised on adult rationality.

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