003_LOCKE: STATE OF NATURE

In his Second Treatise of Govern-meny (Ch.2-5), John Locke agrees with Hobbes that the state of nature is a state of perfect freedom and equality. But he understands both these terms differently. For Hobbes, equality is about our ability to gain power and satisfy our desires, and liberty just means that we each have the natural right to do whatever we think is necessary to secure Self-preservation. Locke argues for a moral interpretation of each term. Equality means no one has right to hold power over anyone else. And while we have the right to Self-preservation, there are limitations on what we may do, given by what Locke calls the Law of Nature. The Law of Nature says that no person may subordinate another,, hatm his life, health, liberty or possessipns (exept in self-defence). And so, Locke says, the State of Nature is a state of liberty but no a statr of ‘licence’ because it still falls under a law, Viz, the Law of Nature.

But laws are usually made by states, and there is no state in the state of nature. So where does this Law of Nature come from? Ultimately, Locke argues, it comes from God, and it is because we are created by God that we have the duty to preserve and not to harm lofe, but our own and other peoples. However, if we do not want to appeal to God, Loxke also argues that the Law of Nature is discovarably by reason.

We may object, on Hobbe’s behalf, that the existence of a Law of Nature is not enough for the state of nature to be peaceful – in adfition people have to obey it. But Hobbes has argued that we need power and we act out of the fear created by the conditions of the state of nature. So even if we should obey the Law of Nature, we won’t.

Locke however, disagree with Hobbes about scarcity, one of the conditions that leads to war. In the state of nature, there is plenty of land for each person to have some for themselves, which they can cultivate and so provide themselves, which they can cultivate and so provide themselves with food & shelter. And most people will prefer to do this than to try to attack someone else to steal what they have not grown, so its possible that we live together peaceful. Infact we can argue that we have a right to own land, because ownership is the most efficient and effective way of securing what we need to live. As long as there is enough land for other people as well, then taking land for ourswlves is no violation of the Law of Nature.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s