What Is Pleaded by John Locke on Social Contract

Locke`s management of property is widely regarded as one of his most important contributions to political thought, but it is also one of the aspects of his thinking that has been most sharply criticized. There are important debates about what exactly Locke wanted to achieve with his theory. An interpretation advocated by C.B. Macpherson (1962) sees Locke as a defender of unfettered capitalist accumulation. According to Macpherson`s interpretation, Locke established three restrictions on the accumulation of goods in their natural state: (1) one can only appropriate what one can use before it spoils (Two Treaties 2:31), (2) one must leave “enough and so good” for others (the restriction of sufficiency) (2.27), and (3) one can (allegedly) appropriate goods only through one`s own work (2.27). Macpherson claims that in the course of the argument, each of these limits is exceeded. The limitation of corruption ceases to be a significant limitation with the invention of money, since value can be stored in an environment that does not disintegrate (2:46-47). The limitation of sufficiency is overcome because the creation of private property increases productivity in such a way that even those who no longer have the opportunity to acquire land have more opportunities to acquire what is necessary for life (2.37). According to Macpherson, the requirement of “enough and so well” is itself only a derivative of an earlier principle that guarantees the possibility of acquiring the necessities of life through work. According to Macpherson, the third restriction was not the one Locke actually held.

Although Locke seems to suggest that one can only have ownership of what one has personally worked on if he makes work the source of property rights, Locke clearly recognized that even in the state of nature, “lawns cut by my servant” (2:28) can become my property. Locke, according to Macpherson, clearly acknowledged that work can be alienated. As can be assumed, Macpherson criticizes the “possessive individualism” represented by Locke`s theory of property. He argues that their coherence depends on the assumption of a different rationality between capitalists and wage workers and the division of society into different classes. Since Locke was bound by these restrictions, we should understand that he only includes landowners as voting members of society. Locke claims that a legitimate government is based on the idea of separation of powers. First and foremost, there is the legislative power. Locke describes legislative power as supreme (Two Treaties 2,149) when it comes to having ultimate authority over “how force is to be used for the Commonwealth” (2,143). The legislator is always bound by natural law and much of what it does is the establishment of laws that promote the objectives of natural law and establish appropriate sanctions for them (2,135). The task of the executive branch is then to enforce the law as it is applied in certain cases.

Interestingly, Locke`s third power is called a “federal power” and consists of the right to act internationally in accordance with natural law. Since countries are still in a state of nature in relation to each other, they must follow the precepts of natural law and can punish each other for violations of this law in order to protect the rights of their citizens. The social contract defines the basis of a legitimate political order within the framework of classical republicanism. It was published in 1762 and became one of the most influential works of political philosophy in the Western tradition. Rousseau asserted that the state of nature was a primitive state without law or morality, which people had left for the benefit and necessity of cooperation. As society developed, the division of labor and private property required humanity to adopt legal institutions. According to Rousseau, by associating with civil society through the social contract and renouncing their claims to natural rights, individuals can both preserve themselves and remain free. For submission to the authority of the general will of the people as a whole guarantees the individual to submit to the will of others, and also ensures that he obeys himself, because he is collectively the author of the law.

The idea of the general will designate the will of the people as a whole. It has served to designate the common interest embodied in the legal tradition, which differs and goes beyond the private and special interests of individuals at any given time. One of the strongest defenses of Tully`s position is presented by Sreenivasan (1995). He argues that Locke`s repeated use of “enough and so good” suggests that the term does a real job of argumentation. In particular, it can be assumed that Locke found a solution to the fact that the consent of all is necessary to justify appropriation in its natural state. If others are not harmed, they have no reason to object and may be considered consent, while it is implausible to consider them consent when they are harmed. Sreenivasan leaves Tully on a few important points. He takes “enough and so well” as “enough and as a good opportunity to ensure its preservation”, not “enough and as good as the same commodity (like the earth)”. This has the advantage of making Locke`s representation of property less radical, as it does not claim that Locke believed that the purpose of his theory was to show that all original property rights were invalid at the time of the creation of political communities.

The downside to this interpretation, as Sreenivasan admits, is that it burdens Locke with an erroneous argument. Those who have the opportunity to work for others only at subsistence wages no longer have the freedom that individuals had before the shortage to benefit from the full surplus value they create. In addition, the working poor no longer have equal access to the materials from which products can be made. Sreenivasan believes that Locke`s theory is therefore incapable of solving the problem of how individuals can acquire individual ownership of what initially belongs to all people without consent. Hannah Pitkin (1965) takes a very different approach. It argues that the logic of Locke`s reasoning makes consent much less important in practice than it appears. Implied consent is indeed a dilution of the concept of consent, but Locke can do so because the basic content of how governments are supposed to be is determined by natural law rather than consent. If approval of Locke`s plan were truly fundamental, we would discover the legitimate powers of a particular government by determining which contract the original founders signed.

However, Pitkin believes that for Locke, the form and powers of government are determined by natural law. So what really matters is not the previous acts of consent, but the quality of the current government, if it corresponds to what the natural law requires. Locke, for example, does not believe that walking the streets or inheriting property in a tyrannical regime means that we have accepted that regime. It is therefore the quality of government, not actual consent, that determines whether a government is legitimate. Simmons disagrees with this interpretation, saying it ignores the many places where Locke actually says that a person only acquires political commitments through his or her own consent. Relying on a discussion in John Locke`s Second Treatise on Government, Montesquieu argues that the executive, legislative, and judicial functions of government (the so-called tripartite system) should be assigned to different organs, so that attempts by one branch of government to violate political freedom could be restricted by the other branches (checks and balances). Montesquieu based this model on the Constitution of the Roman Republic and the British constitutional system. He was of the opinion that the Roman Republic had separate powers, so no one could usurp full power. In the British constitutional system, Montesquieu recognized a separation of powers between the monarch, parliament and the courts. It also notes that freedom cannot be guaranteed where there is no separation of powers, not even in a republic. Montesquieu also hears what modern jurists might call the right to a “robust procedural process,” including the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence, and the proportionality of the severity of the sentence. In accordance with this demand to make civil and criminal laws appropriate to guarantee political freedom, Montesquieu also advocated against slavery and for freedom of thought, expression and assembly.

John Locke defines political power as “a right to legislate with death sentences and, therefore, fewer sentences for everyone” (Two Treatises 2.3). Locke`s theory of punishment is therefore at the heart of his vision of politics and is part of what he thought was innovative in his political philosophy. But he also called his depiction of punishment a “very strange doctrine” (2:9), probably because it went against the assumption that only political rulers could punish. .

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