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American Political Thought Week 1

by: Aubrey Kenderdine

American Political Thought Week 1 POLS 2330

Marketplace > Northeastern University > Political Science > POLS 2330 > American Political Thought Week 1
Aubrey Kenderdine
Northeastern University
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About this Document

Notes from Locke reading and lecture notes (Sept 9th and Sept 13th)
American Political Thought
William G. Mayer
Class Notes
Locke, John Locke, Politics, American Political Thought, Liberalism




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Aubrey Kenderdine on Tuesday September 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 2330 at Northeastern University taught by William G. Mayer in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 43 views. For similar materials see American Political Thought in Political Science at Northeastern University.

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Date Created: 09/13/16
American Political Thought  Week 1 Locke’s Second Treatise of Government (The Liberal Tradition) Pre­Lecture (from reading Locke) and Lecture Notes (including background) Course will focus on 1600­1865, from American settlement to abolition of slavery, as  well as European political thinkers and background 3 Traditions: Liberal, Republican, and Religious/Biblical Liberal = classically liberal, referring to the school of thought in the 1600s, NOT  contemporary American liberalism associated with the Democratic Party Historical Background (The Glorious Revolution of 1688) Great milestone of British history, similar to the American Civil War in scope of  changing political thought and governance Protestant Reformation after Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church, after the Pope  refused to annul his marriage England Religious Demographics after Reformation Church of England (Anglican Church) was established Equivalent of American Episcopal Made up the majority Dissenting Protestants Thought Church of England didn’t go far enough Gave rise to the Puritans Remaining Catholics (about 2% of population in the 1680s) Included some nobility that remained loyal Faced strong resentment Charles II started reign in 1660 and was a member of the Church of England Had ties to the Catholic Church No legal heir, his brother James (a Catholic) would be king after him  Exclusion Crisis was a bill that would prevent a Catholic from becoming king Charles would dissolve Parliament each time it reviewed the bill James II became king in 1685 James II and Charles II were part of the Stuart ruling family James II married first wife in 1660; 2 daughters survived infancy and were raised  Protestant. Mary, one of the daughters, married William of Orange James II’s second wife was Catholic and had a son raised Catholic William of Orange assembled an army from the Netherlands and invaded England (last  successful invasion of England) James had little support, so he fled with his wife and son No blood was shed; William and Mary become king and queen Locke (1632­1704) Oxford trained philosopher and medical doctor Personal physician to Earl of Shaftesbury, who was a leading opponent of Charles II Locke took a greater interest in politics Fled to Holland to avoid being executed Treatise published 1689 but probably written 1679­1683 Part of the First Treatise was destroyed, what was left was more of a reply to Robert  Filmer than political philosophy  Filmer wrote Patriarcha, a work that sought to justify absolute monarchy Looked at Genesis 1:28, God gave Adam dominion over everything Argued that God made Adam the first king Made the point that resisting the king is going against God Locke (a Christian) points out that Bible doesn’t mention inheritance of dominion Locke seeks to justify the Glorious Revolution Describes a state of nature with no government Argues that morals come from reason, which sets man apart from animals Reason comes from the law of nature State of nature is a real thing­ leaders of countries are in the state because there is not  overarching authority Chapter 1 Political power is the right to make laws to regulate and preserve property, to employ  force in order to execute (enforce) such laws, and to defend against an external attack (all of this  being for the public good) Law of nature­ no government, people receive their laws morals from God 3 Characteristics of the state of nature State of perfect freedom State of equality Not a state of license Chapter 2 All men are naturally free to order their actions without anyone’s permission No one has more power or authority than anyone else, unless God declares otherwise State of liberty doesn’t mean that there are no constraints on how people behave Men aren’t at liberty to harm anyone else of his life, health, liberty, or possessions We are all property of God; we last as long as He chooses, not as we choose Natural laws would be useless if no one could enforce them If anyone can punish someone for something bad, then everyone may do so Punishing offenders are the only ways one man may lawfully harm another Restrain­ right everyone has, punish criminals and prevent future offences (criminal law) Reparations­ right that an injured party has (civil law) Positive laws are laws set by governments, not natural These laws are only right if founded on the law of nature Civil government is the proper remedy for the drawbacks of the state of nature Chapter 3 When someone declares by word or action that he intends to end another man’s life, he  puts himself into a state of war against the other person It’s lawful to kill a thief who hasn’t done any harm other than using force to get someone  in his power, as to take something away. There is no reason to think that the thief won’t take  everything away from someone after compromising that person’s liberty. The state of nature is completely different than the state of war The purpose of the law is to protect the innocent by an unbiased treatment of all A great reason for men to enter into a society is to leave the state of nature and block the  state of war Chapter 4 No man can take his own life, so no man can voluntarily enter into slavery Comparison with other Thinkers Hobbes­ says life in the state of nature is “brutish and short” Rousseau­ says people are naturally good in pre­societal conditions (state of nature) Locke’s position is between these two extremes, probably closer to Rousseau


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