Political Theory: Comparing Locke, Rousseau and Plato

3758 words 16 pages
Locke: What is the purpose of politics

- we could live in the state of nature, we don’t need contract or soverign

- life, liberty and property

State of nature: men live according to reason and governed by reason

- man exists in the state of nature in perfect freedom to do as they want, a state of perfect freedom

- not necessarily good or bad, bit is calm and peaceful

- men give up some of their freedom to secure the advantages of civilized socity

- men have the right to protect their freedom (killing if necessary)

- bound by the laws of nature

- contrast with hobbes: everyone has the right over everything, there exist no private property

- Liberty to do as
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Since we all contribute to the shaping of this general will, we do nothing but obey ourselves when we subscribe to this general will.
• Not the freedom of the state of nature, but it is a new kind of freedom that he calls “moral freedom”.
• The passage from the state of nature to the civil state produces a remarkable change in man. Gives our actions a moral quality that they previously lacked. What man loses is his natural liberty, but he gains civil liberty.
• But, to the proceedings acquisitions or civil liberty, we add moral liberty which makes man truly the master of himself. Obedience that one has prescribed for oneself is freedom, moral liberty.
• The moral and political implications are massive.
• For Hobbes and Locke: liberty is the sphere of human conduct that is unregulated by the law. Where the law is silent, the citizen is free to do whatever it is he chooses to do.
• For Rousseau, law is the very beginning of our freedom, but we are free to the extent that we are participants in the laws that we in turn obey. Freedom means acting in conformity to self-imposed law.
• A difference between two very different conceptions of liberty: Liberal vs. Republican
• Rousseau makes heroic and unreasonable assumptions about human nature. Why would we like to get together and engage in debate about political matters.
• Human nature and our capacity to engage in debate. Unless everyone is engaged in the process of legislation,

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