John Locke’s Views on Property and Liberty, as Outlined in His Second Treatise of Government
This is an explication of Chapter 5 of John Locke’s The Second Treatise of Government (1689). The focus will be on property. By the end of this explication readers will have an understanding of property through explaining individual property, who it should belong to, and how it should be controlled.
John Locke is a seventeenth century philosopher who believed that government should be based around the people rather than the power of one person. Equality and property were two factors that Locke considered to be the key to a great society. Locke begins his writings with a discussion on individual property and how each man body is his own property. This leads Locke into the argument that man can obtain property only by using his own labor. an example Locke gives is the picking of an apple. The apple is the property of the man who used his labor to pick it. He goes on to say “A person may only acquire as many things in this way as he or she can reasonably use to their advantage”. With the discussion of property Locke leads into the discussion of trade and monetary value stating that it is natural of man to w...
According to Locke, something becomes one's property when it is taken from nature and mixed with 'labour' of the body and 'work' of the hands. In speaking in terms of land as property, you are only supposed to take what you need while leaving enough for others, and you are also not to let any of the land spoil so you must use it wisely. "As much as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property" (Locke). God has given the world to all mankind, and as long as man works the land and makes good use of it, it is his property, which another had no title to, nor could without injury take from him".
He gave it to all of mankind in common. So, no person should have owned property, but it belonged to everyone. Discussing how people came to own individual pieces of land, he used the natives and how they would work on certain areas of land, eating the food and taking care of it and an example of how land was gradually taken ownership of. It was not purchased, but became owned because of working on the land. "Right and conveniency when together; for as a man had a right to all he could employ his labor upon, so he had no temptation to labor for more than he could make use of it. This left no room for controversy about the title, nor for encroachment on the right of others; what portion a man carved to himself was easily seen, and it was useless, as well as dishonest, to carve himself too much, or to take more than he needed."(23) Locke was saying that man should not take more than he can take care of, that would be
Furthermore, he was the first one to introduce property and the its provisos for just private right, these were that there must be enough to left for others, and that one must not let it spoil, and most of all that one must make its labor with it. On what is Property? Locke started to discuss the means of Property, by referring to the theory of “patriarchalism”, which said that only an absolute monarch (Adam) would have any right to property because God gave Adam total control over all the land. Locke could not engage into this theory and didn't agree to it. Locke argued that property is formed of a man’s life and his possessions. Therefore, he discussed that God provided for mankind all the same to have/own property.
Locke and Rousseau present themselves as two very distinct thinkers. They both use similar terms, but conceptualize them differently to fulfill very different purposes. As such, one ought not be surprised that the two theorists do not understand liberty in the same way. Locke discusses liberty on an individual scale, with personal freedom being guaranteed by laws and institutions created in civil society. By comparison, Rousseau’s conception portrays liberty as an affair of the entire political community, and is best captured by the notion of self-rule. The distinctions, but also the similarities between Locke and Rousseau’s conceptions can be clarified by examining the role of liberty in each theorist’s proposed state of nature and civil society, the concepts with which each theorist associates liberty, and the means of ensuring and safeguarding liberty that each theorist devises.
John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all dealt with the issue of political freedom within a society. John Locke's “The Second Treatise of Government”, Mill's “On Liberty”, and Rousseau’s “Discourse On The Origins of Inequality” are influential and compelling literary works which while outlining the conceptual framework of each thinker’s ideal state present divergent visions of the very nature of man and his freedom. The three have somewhat different views regarding how much freedom man ought to have in political society because they have different views regarding man's basic potential for inherently good or evil behavior, as well as the ends or purpose of political societies.
Locke then places a bound on this type of acquisition, a person may only acquire as many things in this way as he or she can reasonably use to their advantage. One can only take so much as one can use. Lock applies these rules to land: a person in a state of nature can claim land by adding labor to it, building house on it or farming on it, but only so much as that person can reasonably use without waste. Locke then defines labor as the determining factor of value, the tool by which humans make their world a more advantageous and rewarding place to inhabit.
John Locke is most renowned for his political philosophy, most notably his development of a property theory which showed a nexus between labor and economic value. A staple of Lockean philosophy is his comprehensive development of his property acquisition theory-a natural law theory that property arises from the exertion of labor upon natural resources. In Locke’s Second Treatise, Locke suggested that society is responsible for the preservation of property.