, by William Uzgalis, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
, 10 Jul 2012
Major sections: Historical Background and Locke's Life - The Limits of Human Understanding - Locke's Major Works on Education - The Two Treatises Of Government
- Locke and Religious Toleration - Bibliography - Other Internet Resources
"John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke's monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first great defenses of empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics."
John Locke (1632-1704)
, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
Includes list of selected works
"Born in England, John Locke was a persistent champion of natural rights—the idea that each person owns himself and should have certain liberties that cannot be expropriated by the state or anyone else. When someone labors for a productive end, the results become that person's property, reasoned Locke. ... Locke also sketched out a quantity theory of money, which held that the value of money is inversely related to the quantity of money in circulation."
John Locke (1632-1704)
, by Patrick J. Connolly, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Major sections: Life - Method - Human Nature - Religion - Moral Philosophy - Political Philosophy - Assessment - References and Further Reading
"For much of his life Locke held administrative positions in government and paid very careful attention to contemporary debates in political theory. So it is perhaps unsurprising that he wrote a number of works on political issues. In this field, Locke is best known for his arguments in favor of religious toleration and limited government. Today these ideas are commonplace and widely accepted. But in Locke's time they were highly innovative, even radical."
Locke, John (1632-1704)
, by Eric Mack, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism
, 15 Aug 2008
"John Locke was perhaps the most influential and paradigmatic of classical liberal thinkers. ... His early works in political philosophy include the Essays on the Law of Nature (1663–1664), and the pro-tolerance An Essay on Toleration (1667). His major and mature works in political philosophy were Two Treatises of Government (written 1680–1683, published in 1689) and the Letter Concerning Toleration (written in 1685, published 1689, with the subsequent letters published in 1690 and 1692). Locke established his reputation as a major figure in philosophy with the publication of his treatise in epistemology, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)."
Oregon State University, Philosophy Department: includes short biography, detailed timeline, links to his principal works (three at the same site) and list of selected texts about Locke
"Locke's Two Treatises of Civil Government were published after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 brought William of Orange and Mary to the throne, but they were written in the throes of the Whig revolutionary plots against Charles II in the early 1680s. In this work Locke gives us a theory of natural law and natural rights which he uses to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate civil governments, and to argue for the legitimacy of revolt against tyrannical governments."
John Locke | Foundation for Economic Education
Includes short profile, picture and link to related articles by James Bovard, Roderick Long, Wendy McElroy, Jim Powell, Joseph Stromberg and others
"John Locke (1632-1704) was an english philosopher. He is considered by many to be the father of classical liberalism, and is known for his contributions to political philosophy as well as epistemology."
John Locke | Libertarianism.org
Short profile and links to essays, columns and other resources about Locke
"Nicknamed the 'Father of Liberalism,' Locke's theories have formed the foundation of many important works, including the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution. His theories of social contract, the mind, and property are perhaps the most widely known."
John Locke - Online Library of Liberty
Includes portrait, short biography, links to several related articles, to various versions of Locke's works and to selected quotations
"John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher who is considered to be one of the first philosophers of the Enlightenment and the father of classical liberalism. In his major work Two Treatises of Government Locke rejects the idea of the divine right of kings, supports the idea of natural rights (especially of property), and argues for a limited constitutional government which would protect individual rights."
Algernon Sidney: Forgotten Founding Father
, by Chris Baker, The Freeman
, Oct 1997
Biographical essay discussing also Sidney's political theories and his influence in the American colonies
"While his better-known contemporary John Locke harshly criticized self-interest, Sidney seemed to favor it. ... Sidney's political philosophy had one fatal flaw, which Locke also accepted. He believed that 'if he enter into the society, he is obliged by the laws of it.' (Locke called it tacit consent.) Yet Sidney was the most radical man of his time. While Locke earned fame and prestige, Sidney became famous mostly for his 'treason.' Had he lived out his life, he might have had as much influence as Locke, whose major works were all published after the bloodless revolution of 1688."
"And the Pursuit of Happiness": Nathaniel Branden, RIP
, by Sheldon Richman
, 12 Dec 2014
Memorial essay, including some personal recollections, with emphasis on Branden's work on self-esteem and self-responsibility
"Carol V. Hamilton claims that Jefferson found the phrase the pursuit of happiness in John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). ... Locke ... wrote, 'As therefore the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness, so the care of ourselves, ... is the necessary foundation of our liberty. ... we are, by the necessity of preferring and pursuing true happiness as our greatest good, obliged to suspend the satisfaction of our desires in particular cases.' Locke refers here not to political liberty but to a freedom from inner compulsions."
Boxer's Confusion about Ownership
, by Tibor Machan
, 4 May 2007
Explains the absurdity of California Senator Barbara Boxer's statement that public lands are "owned ... by the American people" by recalling a story about Ludwig Wittgenstein
"The American idea, laid out in the political theory of John Locke, is the right to private property. It is this right that makes possible, if property defended in the legal system, the freedom of diverse uses of lands and other property, uses that will serve the purposes of a highly diverse population."
Economic Thought Before Adam Smith: An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Volume 1
, by Gregory P. Pavlik, The Freeman
, Oct 1995
Review of Rothbard's Economic Thought Before Adam Smith
(note: despite the title, Adam Smith is included in this volume, and the review)
"... the Catholic professor at Bologna, Huguccio, in his Summa of 1188, established the doctrine that 'private property was to be considered a sacrosanct right derived from the natural law.' ... This analysis leads to an interesting reinterpretation of more well known proto-libertarian natural rights theorists like John Locke. In the case of Locke, Rothbard regards his theory as 'neo-Scholastic Protestantism,' a resurrection of previously held Christian doctrine regarding the natural law. Of course, there were radical innovations within the Lockean system, most importantly with regard to social contract theory."
, by Joseph Sobran
, 1 Jul 2004
Argues the 2004 cover of Time
magazine, featuring Jefferson, as well as numerous articles in it, merely pay "lip service (to his genius) while missing the essence of it"
"The 'self-evident truths' of his Declaration of Independence — that all men are created equal, that their Creator has endowed them with unalienable rights, that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed — were meant to be challenges, not platitudes. ... A master of several languages and many sciences, Jefferson sought to reduce political philosophy to simple terms every American could understand. The Declaration distills the political philosophy of John Locke, which Jefferson regarded as the consensus of reasonable men of his own generation."
How Nationalism and Socialism Arose from the French Revolution
, by Dan Sanchez, 12 Apr 2017
Examines how three crucial ideas (liberalism, nationalism and socialism) emerged around the same time (18th and 19th century) and how they depended on the rise of the modern people's state
"According to Locke, the state is not the royal family’s private property. ... In Locke's view, the state is a servant of the people with a specific job. If that servant is not performing its function, or worse still, if it is deliberately trampling on the very rights it was tasked to protect, then it has broken the 'social contract': the terms and conditions upon which it was hired. In such cases, the people may exercise their right of revolution: the right to fire (abolish or secede from) their government and hire (establish) a new one. "
John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
, by Jim Powell
, The Freeman
, Aug 1996
Extensive biographical essay, including summaries of his major works
"Thomas Jefferson ranked Locke, along with Locke's compatriot Algernon Sidney, as the most important thinkers on liberty. Locke helped inspire Thomas Paine's radical ideas about revolution. Locke fired up George Mason. From Locke, James Madison drew his most fundamental principles of liberty and government. Locke's writings were part of Benjamin Franklin's self-education, and John Adams believed that both girls and boys should learn about Locke. The French philosopher Voltaire called Locke 'the man of the greatest wisdom. What he has not seen clearly, I despair of ever seeing.'"
John Locke - Hero of the Day
, The Daily Objectivist
Short biographical essay including details on how the Essay Concerning Human Understanding
"Locke's Second Treatise<.cite> offers a theoretical justification of private property—which could be acquired by 'mixing one's labor' with the land—and of political rebellion. He doubtless had recent rebellious doings in England in mind as he drafted it. The work exerted a profound influence on the thought (and action) of the American Founding Fathers."
John Locke: His American and Carolinian Legacy
, by George M. Stephens
John Locke Foundation: explores Locke's principle of property rights and government's role in protecting them
"The political philosophy of Locke's mature years stemmed from the commonly-accepted Natural Law, under which man had Natural Rights, not given to him by any ruler. ... Locke was rather vague about the organization of government. He said that the legislative and executive power 'come often to be separated.' While Locke thought that the legislature should be supreme among the branches, the establishment of legislative, executive and judicial powers and their separation in our governmental tradition came from Montesquieu."
John Locke's Top 5 Radical Political Ideas
, by Brandon Turner, 29 Aug 2016
Brief discussion of "five features of Locke's political thought that remain particularly important": natural equality, property, consent, resistance and toleration
"John Locke turns 384 years old today, making this an unusually appropriate occasion for reflecting upon his legacy as a political philosopher. ... Locke was not the first to articulate the idea of natural equality, of course, but his formulation in the opening pages of the Second Treatise placed equality at the very foundation of liberal political thought. ... Locke's discussion of the 'dissolution' of government does not appear until the final chapter ..., but there's a real sense in which the question of the right of revolution permeates the entire work."
, by Friedrich Hayek
, New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History of Ideas
Chapter 9; originally written in 1973 for the Enciclopedia del Novicento
; covers both the history of both strands of liberalism as well as a systematic description of the "classical" or "evolutionary" type
"It was in the course of the debates during the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period that the ideas of the rule or supremacy of law became finally articulated ... The classical formulations were supplied by John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government (168g) which, however, in some respects provides a still more rationalist intcrpretation of institutions than came to be characteristic of eighteenth-century British thinkers ."
, by Loren E. Lomasky, Reason
, Jan 1996
Review of the book Passions and Constraint: On the Theory of Liberal Democracy
by Stephen Holmes
"The legitimate inheritor of John Locke is, he contends, not Hayek or Milton Friedman or any of their ilk but rather John Rawls. ... Has he succeeded after all in paving an impeccably Lockean road to the welfare state? ... With breathtaking nonchalance Holmes utterly neglects the qualifications that Locke carefully attaches to claims for relief from indigence. ... alms are explicitly said by Locke to be a last resort; they are forthcoming only to he who 'has no means to subsist otherwise.'"
Module 2: John Locke's Two Treatises of Government
Second module of the Cato Home Study Course, includes link to listen or download audio program (2:41:50), questions and suggested readings
"John Locke (1623-1704) was undoubtedly one of the most influential individuals who ever lived. Locke considered the great questions of slavery, religious toleration, constitutional government, individual rights, property, the market economy, and the foundations of justice. He was a physician, a philosopher, an economist, and an activist for liberty and limited government. He is also important as an 'intellectual bridge' between the broader European civilization and the American revolutionaries whom his work inspired."
Murray Rothbard's Philosophy of Freedom
, by David Gordon, The Freeman
, Nov 2007
Examines the arguments made by Rothbard from the premise that slavery is wrong, self-ownership, private property rights and a free market without government interventions follows
"In Rothbard's view, then, one acquires property through 'mixing one's labor' with unowned land, or by acquiring such property in gift or exchange from someone else. This doctrine of course comes from John Locke, though Rothbard embraces this principle of initial acquisition without Locke's numerous qualifications. Rothbard displays great dialectical ingenuity in anticipating objections to his theory. One of the most important of these is that if one may acquire property through Lockean labor mixture, does this not unfairly bias matters in favor of the first possessor?"
Nozick, Robert (1938-2002)
, by Ellen Frankel Paul, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism
, 15 Aug 2008
"The imprint of John Locke's Second Treatise (1690) is present throughout Nozick's book. Nozick begins by assuming Locke's state of nature and then by reprising his account of its moral foundation in natural law and natural right. ... Locke's state of nature is a state of perfect freedom, yet it suffers from certain defects for which natural law, imprinted in each man's heart, is an insufficient remedy. ... To remedy these and other defects, Locke envisioned a voluntary agreement—a social contract—between people desirous of leaving the state of nature and forming into a civil society."
Popular Sovereignty: A Biography of Algernon Sidney
, by Jim Powell
, The Triumph of Liberty
, 4 Jul 2000
"... Quaker merchant Benjamin Furley ... provided lodging for John Locke when he became an exile in Holland. ... Some of the greatest minds of the era began refuting Filmer. John Locke, secretary and medical advisor to radical Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Earl of Shaftesbury, began defending natural rights in two treatises but, being a cautious man, he kept them out of circulation until 1689, after the Stuarts had been overthrown—and even then the books were published anonymously. Locke's long-time friend and assistant James Tyrrell was more daring: he wrote Patriarcha non Monarchia, published in 1681."
Real Liberalism and the Law of Nature
, by Sheldon Richman
, 10 Aug 2007
Examines Hodgskin's introductory letter to Henry Brougham, a Member of Parliament (later Lord Chancellor), written in 1829, published in The Natural and Artificial Right of Property Contrasted
"Hodgskin cuts to the chase ... 'But though the Westminster philosophers, and you also, agree with Mr. Locke, in attributing to the right of property the utmost importance, making it the basis of the political edifice, they differ from him, fundamentally and totally, as to the origin of this right. Mr. Locke lays it down, that the preservation of property is the object for which men unite into a commonwealth. For this purpose, they put themselves under government. Property therefore, according to Mr. Locke, existed antecedently to government, and government was established for the protection of an antecedently existing right of property.'"
The Growth of Libertarian Thought
, by Murray Rothbard
, Conceived in Liberty
Volume II, Part II "Intercolonial Developments", Chapter 33: Starts by considering the influence of English writers Sidney and Locke and then considers Trenchard and Gordon's Cato's Letters
"There were two strains in Locke's Essay: the individualist and libertarian, and the conservative and majoritarian ... But the individualist view is the core of the philosophic argument, while the majoritarian and statist strain appears more in the later, applied portions of the theory."
The Rights of the Colonists: The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting
, by Samuel Adams
, 20 Nov 1772
First of three reports of the Massachusetts Comittee of Correspondence, authored by Adams, presented to a town meeting by James Otis and later republished by Benjamin Franklin
"In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practised ... Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live."
What you should know about the Non-Aggression Principle
, by Jason Kuznicki, 24 Feb 2017
Discusses the non-aggression principle, stating that it "depends on a valid theory of property ownership" and concludes that such a theory is in conflict with what most people view as the proper role of government
"John Locke's theory of property, which has frequently been invoked by classical liberals, holds that property began as a grant of the entire world, from God, to all of humanity in common. Property became private, Locke held, because property existed from the beginning to satisfy human needs, and because private property was apt to satisfy those needs more effectively. Individuals improve private property, a step which they tend not to take with a commons, and thus private property is more apt to the purpose for which property exists in any form."
Would-Be Rulers without Clothes
, by Sheldon Richman
, Future of Freedom
, May 2008
Examines Hillary Clinton's assertion about "wanting" a universal health care plan
"Roderick Long ... reminds us that Jefferson borrowed the Declaration philosophy from John Locke, who was quite clear on what he meant by equality. In his Second Treatise of Government, Locke writes that equality is a state 'wherein all the Power and Jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another ...'"
A Letter Concerning Toleration
Originally "Epistolia de Tolerentia", translated by William Popple
"First, Because the Care of Souls is not committed to the Civil Magistrate any more than to other Men. It is not committed unto him, I say, by God; because it appears not that God has ever given any such Authority to one Man over another, as to compell any one to his Religion. Nor can any such Power be vested in the Magistrate by the Consent of the People; because no man can so far abandon the care of his own Salvation, as blindly to leave it to the choice of any other, whether Prince or Subject, to prescribe to him what Faith or Worship he shall embrace."