Analysis Of The Protection Of Individual Rights

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Throughout history, man has sought after the preservation of his natural rights. The idea of protecting these rights has put many political thinkers into conversation with one another, opening the door to a plethora of ideas and critiques on these important ideas. Liberal contract theorists, such as John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Adam Smith, are seen as committed to the protection of individual rights above all other powers. On the other hand, many critics such as, Karl Marx, Carole Pateman, and Charles Mills, address foundational issues that the liberal theorists omit. In the critics’ view, they see the individual not as a free being in the liberal capitalism government; rather, they see the individual as estranged, subordinated,…show more content…
John Locke, the seventeenth and eighteenth century social contract theorist expounds this idea in his chapter on property within his Second Treatise on Government. Within Locke’s essay, the philosopher first deems that all beings are free and equal in the state of nature. Central to Locke’s treatise is the idea that the purpose of government is to protect and expand one’s property. Thus, one may may see with the social contract theorists, particularly with Locke, the government state exists to enforce property rights. Furthermore, one may see Locke against tyranny and for the protection of individuals’ rights in his views on leadership in the state. As mentioned, Locke says that all men are free and equal. Thus, Locke questions why a citizen would give power to a man who is exactly like the rest. Therefore, for Locke, the sovereign power is not absolute. Legitimate government requires consent by the governed, in this type of reciprocal relationship. In all, people are self-interested; they want to obtain land, work the land, and go about their business. Therefore, for Locke it is the government’s job to protect and expand each individual’s property; there is no need for an absolute sovereign, as it is also inconsistent with civil
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