Paper topics on Locke

  1. What is the state of nature? Why does Locke begin his account of the principles of politics with an account of the state of nature?
  2. According to Locke, in what respect are all men equal? What are the implications of this kind of equality for our rights?
  3. What, according to Locke, is the law of nature? Why should men and women obey it in the state of nature?
  4. Why do we have a right to private property in the state of nature? Why are we justified in making some of the common property of all into our own private property?
  5. Locke argues that those who take some of the common property of all and make it their own property must leave “enough and as good” for others. Yet, for all practical purposes, no common land is available in our political community today. Why, however, would Locke argue that private property in land is still legitimate?
  6. Why, according to Locke, do men seek to leave the state of nature and create a political society? Do they seek to create a strong or weak government? (Be sure to define what you mean by strong and weak government in answer the second part of this question.)
  7. What is the rule of law? Why, according to Locke, must a government follow the rule of law?
  8. Who must consent in order for a political society to be established? What, according to Locke, is the fundamental way in which one form of government may be distinguished from another? Who must consent to the establishment of a particular form of government?
  9. Why would Locke claim that men and women do not need to follow Machiavelli’s advice in order to attain the good things in life? How does Locke’s view of politics try to take advantage of the benefits that ambitious people can bring to their fellow men and women while also limiting the damage they can do?
  10. From a Lockean perspective, what arguments can be given in favor and in opposition to the redistribution of income from those with more to those with less income and wealth? Which of these arguments do you find persuasive? Why?

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