John Locke
Spectrum of Ideologies
Communitarian
Individualistic
John Locke
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Humans therefore invented government
Purpose of government:
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Capitalism is ethical on rights grounds
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Protect liberty (freedom)
Protect private property
Based on liberty and private property
Government regulation unethical
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Infringes on liberty and private property
John Locke (1632–1704)
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Rights perspective
Humans have “natural rights”:
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Liberty (freedom)
Private property
Why? Without government, humans would be
in a “state of nature”
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Freedom: Free of all human-made laws
Property: Resources combined with work
Common fear: theft of freedom or property
I.
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Historical Background
John Locke (1632 –
1704)
Enters Oxford in 1651
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Studies philosophy,
natural history, medicine
Becomes physician and
advisor to First Earl of
Shaftesbury (big Whig
politician)
Reign of Charles II,
Charles dies in 1685
I.
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Historical Background
Line of succession issue (Catholic vs.
Protestant)
Locke – through Shaftesbury – gets
implicated in plot to assassinate James
Leaves England for Holland in 1683
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Begins to write anonymous political pamphlets,
including the Two Treatises on Government
(1689)
I.
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Historical Background
1688 “Glorious Revolution” in
England
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Replace the Catholic line from
James with William and Mary
(both Protestant)
Locke was an advisor to
William while the two of them
were in Holland together
In exchange for throne, William
& Mary agreed to a more
limited, constitutional
monarchy
Signed “Toleration Act” which
allowed for religious toleration
for most faiths (except
Catholicism and Unitarianism)
I.
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Historical Background
Locke lives out his days on government
pension
Locke’s Influence
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US Declaration of Independence (1776)
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“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure
these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the
Governed, that whenever any Form of Government
becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the
People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new
Government….”
Locke’s Influence
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United Nations’ Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (1948)
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“…the equal and inalienable rights of all members
of the human family is the foundation of freedom,
justice, and peace in the world….”
http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
Critics of John Locke
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Are the liberty and property rights of the
buyer and seller the only relevant rights?
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Example: cigarettes
If there are rights at stake in addition to the
liberty and property rights of the buyer and
seller, then government regulation might be
justified to protect all the relevant rights.
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Example: cigarettes
Some Noteworthy
Philosophers
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Adam Smith
John Locke
Herbert Spencer
John Maynard Keynes
Karl Marx
Adam Smith (1723–1790)
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1776: “The Wealth of Nations”
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Why do some societies do better than others?
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Not because of access to natural resources
Not because of exporting more than importing
(Mercantilism)
Answer: Capitalism
Utilitarian perspective
Adam Smith
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Capitalism is ethical on utilitarian grounds
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Private property and unregulated free markets
produce the greatest net social benefits of any
socioeconomic system: laissez-faire
Limited role of government:
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Protect private property
Enforce contracts
Therefore, government regulation of business is
unethical on utilitarian grounds