POL 161 A Letter of Toleration: John Locke Notes
POL 161 A Letter of Toleration: John Locke Notes POL 161.001
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Date Created: 04/04/16
A Letter Concerning Toleration John Locke Relationship between morality and politics o 5 questions (so far) What is the morality of obedience and disobedience? Can/should political leaders be moral? Can/should moral persons be involved in politics? What are the problems and goals of politics? Are they the same as, or different than the problems and goals of morality and religion? For Plato, they are the same realm, harmonized For Machiavelli, they are distinct and need different approaches. Should political institutions teach and promote morality and/or religion? How far spread political institutions be involved in teaching and promoting moral and religious beliefs Plato put a lot of effort into promotion of morality Locke will say politics and religion should not be mixed in that way/extent. Politics should not be charged with promoting and enforcing morality. What should citizens do when their morality, religion, and/or conscience conflicts with politics/law? Socrates tackles disobedience Locke will deal with the law commanding you do something against your religious conscience. Introduction o Approaches to religious conflict 2 common approaches to religious division and conflict in Locke’s time Governments and churches should seek to impose a single religion on all members of the society o Not Locke’s approach; actually thought that this was the cause of the problem. Governments and churches tolerate religious diversity o Locke’s approach If everyone learned to tolerate everyone’s religious groups, then this would put an end to religious divisions and conflicts. Religious Toleration Letters o 3 main reasons why government should not be involved in religion Religion is about inner persuasion and sincere belief Inner faith, inner relationship with God Matters most; not external actions No one can be in charge of another’s soul Religious belief cannot be compelled by force, but only by argument and reason. Government, however, is essentially a realm of force and therefore cannot promote religion. Even if the force to government could compel belief, this wouldn’t further the causes of salvation Religious affairs are not something government knows much about salvation than anyone else, therefore they will still disagree with one another They are looking out for their own political goals and ambitions o Hard to trust them to look out for your salvation o Also, what Machiavelli argues Use religion to further your political goals Government should only care for the things of this would, no of the world to come (pg. 28) o Therefore, separate church and state Settle the bounds between them in order to settle religious conflicts (pg. 26) The two realms are ‘perfectly distinct’, boundaries are ‘fixed and immovable’ (pg. 33) Watertight compartments 2 separate jurisdictions They are distinct in their original (origins), end, business, and every other thing. (pg 33) o What is a church A free and voluntary society/association, created to care for our souls and to achieve salvation (pg. 28) Concerned with the next world, or the immoral life, not this worldly, temporal life. Right of exit is always available to all members Has rules, but its strongest power of enforcement is excommunication and revocation of membership (pg. 30) Does no use force, but instead operates through love, teaching, admonishing, persuasion, exhorting, and advising. Cannot harm others in their worldly goods, and generally should not be concerned with worldly issues of political and economic life. However, seems to be a radical concept to have religion separate from worldly life. Many teachings influence a sense of economic and political duties. o What is government A contractual association among citizens to join their forces together to protect and uphold every individuals’ natural rights to life, liberty, and property, as well as the public good Locke is called a social contract theorist o Implicit by everyone, not voluntary o Agreed to give up use of violence forces Also, a natural rights theorist (pg. 26) o Everyone is born with God given natural rights Life, liberty, and property God gives these rights but they are insecure because there is not authority to enforce Others can infringe Government needed to protect these natural rights, to execute the law of these natural rights. Civil interests (pg. 26) o Everyone has interest in protecting these in interest of their worldly life o These rights provide for the comfort, prosperity, and happiness of this (worldly) life, and are not concerned with religious doctrines/truths. Protects what each person gains through his/her industry, as well as each person’s freedom of religion. Gain economic property and people do not harm you in your property Provides defense against “the rapine and fraud of foreigners” Pg. 4748 Summary of what is government Protects life, liberty, and property by using law, force, punishment, and compulsion o What government is created for Minimal, limited government which must stay within the bounds of the law of nature o Government no more, no less is to protect laws of nature (life, liberty, and property) o But notice… Even though Locke spends most of his time on the separation on state and church (laws, protection, and jurisdictions). Not just the institutions of being separate, there is a separation within each person between the religious aspects and the political lives. Internal to each person Locke’s separation between the institutions of church and state is also a separation within each person’s life regarding his/her worldly concerns and his/her otherworldly (spiritual) concerns. each person has two different employments in lives; look after soul, look after existence on Earth. Calls upon each of us to compartmentalize our religious beliefs/pursuits from our economic and political beliefs/pursuits. o Why it may not be natural to separate these 2 lives as an individual o Pg. 47 at the top to middle Religion should become a private and individual affair Way to relate to your neighbor and individual affair. People need to learn to stop caring so much about the religious practices of those around us. Not a public concern if yours over other people. Locke thinks during this time violence was partly caused because everyone thought it was their responsibility to ‘save’ everyone else (pg. 34) Don’t be concerned with neighbors’ souls o Individual value, way of acting o Tolerate your neighbors o By the end, however, it turns out that the watertight compartments are not so watertight There will be times when there are conflicts between religion and politics The reality 2 arguments: conflicts between government and religious conscience) Isolate cases of conflict between law and individual conscience. o Pg. 48 What happens if a government passes a law that seems unlawful to the conscience of the individual? Government is fully within its jurisdictions but just so happens to pass some kind of law that will feel like a violation of some person’s individual liberties. For the public good still. o Ex: military draft Won’t happen if government does its job well These conflicts will be “managed by law” o Law that government has passed is legitimate. Obligation to God must come first for citizens Civil disobedience, conscientious objection or abstain But secondary obligation to law because the law is legit, you must accept the punishment. Sustained religious oppression by government o Broader issue/argument for Locke o When a government becomes tyrannical and oppressive of individuals religious lives o Some governments will consistently exceed their proper authority to become oppressive and tyrannical Not protecting natural, God given, rights Nor even government has this authority o These conflicts are “managed by force” Because law is of no effect here o In most cases a government will have more force than everyday people. Therefore more often than not, government will win. God will ultimately win, settle out the score, but on Earth it will be dealt with force o If this violation keeps happening through a long train of abuses, the people will rise up and seek to overthrow this tyrant government. May win battle of force Armed revolution of the people may be justified to overthrow an oppressive and tyrannical government. (pg. 55) Right of Rebellion o Oppression is the chief cause of religious conflict, not religion (pg. 52) In response to critics that say if you give right to rebel, that is the cause of religious violence. People should obey and respect their government’s authority Locke says religious freedom will end religious conflicts Locke says to Right to Rebel will keep governments in check; government will know that they will be met with force if they overstep their bounds. Lack of liberty and toleration is the cause of conflict Oppressed in the name of Religion, that’s why they rise up in the name of Religion. o Question: How can Locke justify revolutionary violene, when he has argued that violence is a violation of Christianity? Goes back to the separation of religion and politics within the individual. Oppression of religion is a violation of rights of liberty which falls under the realm of politics. Violence is necessary in politics. Force is needed to enforce rights of liberty. Justify fighting in name of liberty, not religion. Separation/ compartmentalize the individual.
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