The law of nature where no one man

The government was
also expected to protect private property as this was one of the reasons for joining
the civil society. People can come to own private property through their own labour,
which affects the value of the property, and they can accumulate as much as they
want that they can reasonably use before it spoils, government exists to protect
man’s lives, liberty and property (Dunn, 1984)


To escape the
state of nature to leave the inconveniences of having no written law men joined
together to form political society. All men agree to give up their liberties in
order to allow a government to rule them and protect them, this pulls them out
of the state of nature, it prevents the state of war from occurring as there is
now the presence of a judge and written law which is harder to manipulate to
one’s own aims than it had been in the state of nature as mentioned above
(Tully, 1993). It is important though that those in power are legitimately in
charge because they could otherwise infringe on people’s liberties, therefore
whoever is in power should have majority consent of the public (ibid).

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The state of war
can be seen as an opposite of the state of nature. The state of nature is a
state of perfect freedom for all men, governed by the law of nature where no
one man is stronger than or has more power than another, this precedes the
civil society. Men are free to do as they wish as there is no one who can tell
them what to do, as long as it is within the bounds of the law of nature, this
means not doing anything that goes against humanity which should be preserved
(Second Treatise, 1; 6). With the state of nature though there is always the
risk of falling into the state of war due to the law of nature being
interpreted and applied by the people themselves in their own favour as there
was no impartial judge to do this (Second treatise, 13).


All humans in
the state of nature live by the law of nature, which is set out in chapter 2 of
the Second Treatise, this is described by Gough (1950) as a law of reason, as
reason is common to all men. This suggests that if someone chooses to ignore
reason by doing wrong to another human, i.e. putting themselves into the state
of war, they are also going against the law of nature itself. Locke declares
that if someone choses to harm other people they themselves are putting
themselves outside the law of nature and under another rule, this is dangerous
for preservation of others who are in the state of nature and therefore it is
right for them to be punished (Second treatise, 8).


The ideas
highlighted in the passage are explained in chapter three of the Second
Treatise, which is on the state of war, this is separate to the state of nature.
Locke describes this as a place of hostility and destruction that people enter
into either if they are brought into or bring someone else into conflict
(Second Treatise, 16), which remains until the guilty party is brought to
justice by the innocent party (Second Treatise, 20). The law of nature was not
written down anywhere and there was no judge above all other men who could
accurately interpret these laws, therefore it was up to each person to
interpret the laws themselves which was objective and could be made to work in
each person’s favour (Yolton, 1958). The state of war is one of the reasons put
forward for moving to the civil society


First of all, it
is important to understand the concepts presented in the passage, which puts
forward that if someone makes an enemy of another they are allowed to punish
them themselves as suggested by “one may destroy a man who makes war upon him”
this could be by killing them if necessary to, if it brings the innocent party
justice as “the safety of the innocent is to be preferred” (Second Treatise, 16).
The idea of reason is also mentioned, with it being claimed that as they have
chosen to wrong another person they have lost their reason and are no more than
any beast “they are not under the ties of the common law of reason” (Second Treatise,
16) as they are no longer tied to other men by reason they do not need to be
treated as such.


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