Readings for this part of your journey

  1. The Second Treatise of Civil Government



In this section of the course we are going to explore Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government. Locke is a political philosopher of the first importance, but he was not an arm-chair theorist. Locke, as you shall see, was involved in the historical events of the last three and a half decades of the seventeenth century which led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in which James II was forced to flee to France being replaced on the throne of England by William of Orange and his wife Mary (daughter of James II). This relatively peaceful revolution was of enormous importance in English history as it represents the point at which power shifts finally from the King to Parliament.

In the Second Treatise Locke is asking questions which were of fundamental importance in making the Whig case that the house of Stuart was abusing its powers. Machaivelli had asked questions like: "How should a prince rule so as to stay in power?" Locke is asking another question. Locke wants to know what the difference is between a legitimate and an illegitimate civil government. If someone were to ask you this question right now -- would you have a good answer? Try it. Here is a form. Please use it to try to explain what the difference is between a legitimate civil government which is properly doing its job, and a government which is not, one against which its citizens could legitimately rebel.

If you found that exercise difficult, you will find that by the end of this section of the course you will have a clear view of at least one answer to this question -- the one supplied by Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government.



You have already been introduced to John Locke (1632-1704), the author of the Second Treatise of Civil Government in the preceding unit of this course. Locke's father fought on the puritan and Parliamentary side in the early part of the English Civil War. Locke was an Oxford scholar and doctor who became involved with the great political conflicts in England after the Restoration of Charles II. Locke is famous for writing An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which deals with the extent and limits of human understanding. Locke is also famous for writing the Two Treatises of Civil Government and the Letters Concerning Toleration which deal with conflicts in English politics and religion. Locke's views have had an enormous impact on our thinking in various ways. The Letters Concerning Toleration, for example, argue for a distinction between Church and State which was influential among the founding fathers of the United States. Locke's prestige as a philosopher gave weight to his arguments. Similarly, the Second Treatise along with his other works, very much impressed Thomas Jefferson. So, Locke's ideas very likely played a role in the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.


The First Earl of Shaftsbury

Anthony Ashley Cooper was a very rich commoner, who became involved in government under the Commonwealth. When that government began to collapse after the death of Oliver Cromwell, Shaftsbury became involved in the consultations and negotiations which led to the restoration of Charles II. After the Restoration in 1660 Anthony Ashley Cooper played a major role in the English government and politics. He was a hard working government official.

Locke met Anthony Ashley Cooper in 1666 and moved to London the next year to become his personal physician, secretary researcher, political operative and friend. Living with him Locke found himself at the very heart of the storm in English politics in the 1670s and 1680s. In 1668 Locke oversaw an operation in which a suppurating cyst was removed from his patron's liver. (Locke's recorded observations are sufficiently good that modern doctors have no trouble determining what Lord Ashley's ailment was). Miraculously Cooper survived the operation. (Remember this was a time before the theory of germs!) The family gave Locke all the credit for the success of the operation.

Lord Ashley eventually became Lord Chancellor of England and at that point was made the First Earl of Shaftsbury. Shaftsbury eventually had a falling out with the King (who probably never trusted him since he had been part of the Commonwealth government). He was dismissed as Lord Chancellor in 1672 and became the leader of the opposition to the government. He was the leader of the Country Party (which shortly became the Whig party) in opposition to the Court party (which became the Tories).



Lord Shaftsbury's substantial role in English politics from the 1660s to the Exclusion Crisis of the 1680s plays an enormously important part in how the Two Treatises came to be written and in determining the purpose they were intended to serve.

The Protestant majority in 17th century England saw Catholics much as communists were in the United States in the 1950s -- as evil agents of a foreign power. For a variety of reasons, however, Catholicism was a much more integral element in English life, than Communism was in the United States. For one thing, England had, like all other countries in Europe, been a Catholic country. This ceased when Henry the Eighth created the Anglican Church because the Pope refused to give him a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Because of the way in which is was created, the Anglican church had much in common with Catholicism, even though the King of England and not the Pope was at its head. After the death of Henry, his son Edward VI restored a reformed version of Catholicism, and Mary (Edward's half sister) restored relations with the Papacy. Elisabeth I restored the independence of the Church of England in two acts in 1560 -- the Elizabethan settlement. This settlement satisfied those who wanted a "reformed Catholicism" (reformed in worship and custom, but Catholic in doctrine and practice). Two other groups, however, did not accept the settlement. The first wished the Church to return to Rome altogether, and the second thought the reforms did not go far enough. The seventeenth century was the period of influence of the latter -- the Puritans. Thus one had the split between the High Church and the low church.

Charles I prefered the High Church. The Puritans exercised considerable influence in Parliament. In addition, Charles I had a Catholic French princess for a wife.
The Execution of Charles I
So, in the conflicts between King and Parliament which led to the English Civil War, the death of Charles I and the exile of his family, as well as the rise of Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth government, there was an element of religious conflict as well as political conflict. When Cromwell defeated Charles (born 1630), the Prince of Wales at the Battle of Worcester (1651), Charles escaped with the help of English Catholics. This gave him an enduring affection for his Catholic subjects. He and his mother lived in exile at the court of his most Catholic majesty of France, Louis XIV. Louis XIV's France was a centralized government in which the King had supreme power. The French parliament was weak by comparison with the English parliament. So, Louis XIV represented an ideal to which an English king might aspire.

Charles II

After the Restoration, and after he had spent some time in the government of Charles II, Shaftsbury came to suspect Charles II and his brother of wishing to make England an absolute monarchy and a Catholic country like France. These suspicions had some foundation. In a secret treaty at Dover in 1670 Charles had agreed to try to make England a Catholic country in return for a large sum of money from the French king. Charles certainly had his problems with Parliament -- which often refused to give him the money he needed to carry on the business of government. The Parliament did not want the king operating in financial independence of the Parliament. The King, given his frustrations with getting money from the suspicious Parliament, would very much have liked to operate in financial independence of that body.

The King and Lord Shaftsbury became increasingly suspicious of one another. Finally Charles dismissed Shaftsbury from the government and Shaftsbury became one of the most prominent parliamentary leaders of the opposition to the government. Locke served the Earl of Shaftsbury when the latter left the Government and became the leader of the opposition to Charles II, though he did spend four years after Shaftsbury's dismissal in France traveling about for his health. He was back in time for the Exclusion crisis.

James, Duke of York, was next in line to succeed his brother Charles II as King of England. Ironically, Charles, who was known to keep a number of mistresses and had a fair number of illegitimate child children, did not have a legitimate heir. The Queen, Catherine of Braganza (a Portugese princess), was unable to conceive. The Duke was an avowed Catholic. James was not as subtle or astute as his brother. He was an overt Catholic. Many in the country feared (and as it turned our quite rightly) that where James to become King, he would try to make England a Catholic absolutist monarchy. Shaftsbury and other opposition leaders wished to prevent the Catholic Duke of York from succeeding his brother Charles II as King. Shaftsbury proposed to pass a bill in Parliament to exclude the Duke of York from succeeding his brother. To do this, several political campaigns were necessary, but eventually the House of Commons passed an Exclusion Bill by the wide majority which Shaftsbury thought would force the King to sign it. He, and the other opposition leaders had badly miscalculated Charles' loyalty to his brothers. The King made it plain to the Lords that the bill was unacceptable to him, and the Exclusion bill was defeated in the House of Lords.

The failure of the Exclusion Bill led many in the opposition to simply give up. Others, including Shaftsbury and Locke, began to plan an armed revolution. Part of the plot involved an effort to trap the King and his brother as they returned to London from the Newmarket races in a narrow road. The king's guard was to be cut off at a bridge, and the King's coach fired upon from the windows of a house overlooking the narrow street. This was called the Rye House plot after the name of the house and the street. It did not come off because the King and his brother returned to London early from the races. Nonetheless the effort to organize a general rising continued. It was not to be, however. First Shaftsbury gave up and fled to Holland where he died in 1683. Then someone revealed the Rye House Plot to the government and Locke fled to Holland the same week that the plot was revealed.

While Locke was living in exile in Holland, Charles II died on Feb. 6, 1685 and was succeeded by his brother -- who became James II of England. Recent scholarships suggest that while in Holland Locke was closely associated with the English revolutionaries in exile. While the English government was much concerned with this group, the English intelligence service infiltrated this group and effectively thwarted their efforts -- at least for a while. In fact, when one of Charles' illegitimate sons, the Duke of Monmouth, invaded England to try to overthrow James II, the government knew where the force was going to land before the troops on the ships did! The revolt was crushed. Ultimately, however, the rebels were successful. William of Orange was invited to bring a Dutch force to England, and after his landing James II fled the country to exile in France. This became known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the end of the rule of the House of Stuart in England. It is an watershed in English history. For it marks the point at which the balance of power in the English government passed from the King to the Parliament. Locke returned to England in 1688 on board the royal yacht, accompanying Queen Mary on her voyage to join her husband.


The introduction of the work was written latter and until this century gave people the impression that the book was written in 1688 to justify the Glorious Revolution. We now know that the Two Treatises of Civil Government were written during the Exclusion crisis and were probably intended to justify the general armed rising which the Country Party leaders were planning. It was a truly revolutionary work.

Supposing that the Two Treatises may have been intended to explain and defend the revolutionary plot against Charles II and his brother, how does it do this? What do reflections on the state of nature and the state of war have to do with distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate civil government?

The First Treatise of Civil Government is a polemical work aimed at refuting the patriarchal version of the Divine Right of Kings doctrine put forth by Sir Robert Filmer. :Locke singles out Filmer's contention that men are not "naturally fre e" as the key issue, for that is the "ground" or premise on which Filmer erects his argument for the claim that all "legitimate" government is "absolute monarchy." -- kings being descended from the first man Adam. Early in the First Treatise Lo cke denies that either scripture or reason supports Filmer's premise or arguments. In what follows, Locke minutely examines key Biblical passages - so Locke's emphasis in the First Treatise is on refuting Filmer's scriptural claims for the divin e right of kings doctrine. Reason has the subordinate role.

TheSecond Treatise provides Locke's positive theory of government - he explicitly says that he must do this "lest men fall into the dangerous belief that "all government in the world is merely the product of force and violence." Locke's accou nt involves several devices which were common in seventeenth and eighteenth century political philosophy -- natural rights theory and the social contract. Natural rights are those rights which we are supposed to have as human beings before ever governmen t comes into being. We might suppose, that like other animals, we have a natural right to struggle for our survival. Locke will argue that we have a right to the means to survive. When Locke comes to explain how government comes into being, he uses the idea that people agree that their condition in the state of nature is unsatisfactory, and so agree to transfer some of their rights to a central government, while retaining others. This is the theory of the social contract. There are many versions of n atural rights theory and the social contract in seventeenth and eighteenth century European political philosophy. These influenced both the American and the French revolutions.

The Structure of the Second Treatise of Civil Government

Here is the subject matter of the various chapters of the Second Treatise. You are not going to read all of them for this course, but you might as well have a map, as it were, of the route which Locke takes.


Trying to figure out what the proper or legitimate role of civil government is going to be difficult if one is going to examine the vast complexity of existing civil governments. How should one proceed? One strategy is to consider what life is like b efore there is civil government. Presumably this is a simpler state, on e which may be easier to understand. Then one might see what role civil government ought to play. This is the strategy which Locke, following Hobbes and others pursues. The state in which there is no natural government is the state of nature. Locke describes this in the second chapter of the Second Treatise. It is a state of political equality in which there is no natural superior or inferior. From this equality flows the obligation to mutual love which, and the duties they owe one another, and the great maxims of justice and charity.

Human nature and God's purposes

According to Locke, God created man and we are, in effect, God's property. It is God who determines how long one of his creatures will continue to exist in his world, thus suicide is unacceptable. The chief end set us by our creator as a species and a s individuals is survival. A wise and omnipotent God, having made us and sent into this world:

...by his order and about his business, they are his property whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another's pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed an y subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another's uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our's.

It follows immediately that "he has no liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession , yet when some nobler use than its bare possession calls for it." (II. ii. 5) If one takes survival as the end, then we may ask what are th e means necessary to that end. On Locke's account, these turn out to be the rights to life, liberty, health and property. Let us think about how this is supposed to work. If I take away your life, then rather clearly you do not survive. So, life and su rvival are so closely linked that the continuation of life amounts to a definition of survival. So, how is one going to preserve life? Well, clearly health is related to the preservation of life. What often comes before death is illness. It is possibl e for me to take away your life, and it is probably also possible for me to injure your health. If I put you in a dungeon where you never see daylight and it is very damp, and... well you can imagine how this might injure your health. Prisons also bring up the topic of liberty. If you can't get around to get your food or make a living, then it will be up to me to feed you. So, in that sense, I suppose your life is in my hands, where, according to Locke, it does not belong. Property? Well, I did say " your food" didn't I? Locke starts out with the notion that your body is yours, and goes on from there to food and other things necessary for survival. So, you can see how you might argue, that life, liberty, health and property might be intimately conn ected with your survival. Since the end is set by God, on Locke's view we have a right to the means to that end. This is the justification of these rights. These are natural rights, that is rights which we have in a state of nature before the introduct ion of civil government. These rights are based not only on having the means to the end for which God put us here, but our natural equality.


If it is clear to me that God's purpose for me on earth is my survival and that of my species, and that the means to that survival are my life, health, liberty and property -- then clearly I don't want anyone to violate my rights to these things. Equ ally, considering other people, who are my natural equals, I should conclude that I should not violate their rights to life, liberty, health and property. This is the law of nature. It is the Golden Rule, interpreted in terms of natural rights. Thus Loc ke writes: "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: and reason which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm anot her in his life, health, liberty or possessions..." (II, 6) Locke tells us that the law of nature is revealed by reason. Locke makes the point about the law that it is what represents what is best for us. If it did not, he says, the law would vanish fo r it would not be obeyed. It is in this sense, I think, that Locke means that reason reveals the law. If you reflect what is best for yourself and others given the goal of survival and our natural equality, you will come to this conclusion.

This law of nature, like civil laws can be violated. I can choose not to respect your rights to property or life. So, when there are violations of the law of nature, who is going to enforce the law? Remember that in the state of nature there are no police. Why? Because there is no civil government. Similarly, there are no government appointed judges or prosecuting attorneys. Yet without some mechanism for enforcing the law of nature, the law is useless. Locke's answer is that in the state of na ture each of us has the right to enforce the state of nature in our own case. We are the police, the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner all rolled into one. We may, Locke tells us, and this is important for his purposes, help one another. We may intervene in cases where our own interests are not directly under threat to help enforce the law of nature. Still, the person who is most likely to enforce the law under these circumstances is the person who has been wronged.

Are there likely to be problems with someone enforcing the law in a state of nature when they are the victim who has been wronged? Well, yes, that is likely enough. The basic principle of justice here is that the punishment should be proportionate to the crime. But when the victim is judging the seriousness of the crime, are they not likely to judge it of greater severity than might an impartial judge? This is clearly one of the problems, perhaps the central problem, with the state of nature.


In Chapter 3, Locke defines the state of war. This is a state in which someone has a sedate and settled intention of violating someone's right to life. Such a person puts themselves into a state of war with the person whose life they intend to take. In such a war the person who intends to violate someone's right to live is an unjust aggressor. Is there a difference between a criminal and an unjust aggressor in a state of war? We tend to think of wars as taking place between large groups, like nati ons. But such is not the case here. Thus the line between a criminal who is an individual violating someone's rights and an unjust aggressor is blurred. What are the implications of having "a sedate and settled intention" to violate someone's rights? How does this differ, for example, from doing it on the spur of the moment? One answer is that one could expect a pattern of violations of rights to emerge from a sedate and settled intention. I think this is one difference between a single violation of a state of nature which deserves punishment and a state of war. Another distinction is that in state of war, the aggressor, clearly intends to kill the person.


The state of slavery is one much we will examine in detail in the next unit. At this point we might say that in cases where the unjust aggressor is defeated in war, the just victor has the option to either kill the aggressor or enslave them. Slavery is the state of being in the absolute or arbitrary power of another. Locke tells us that the state of slavery is the continuation of the state of war between a lawful conqueror and a captive, in which the conqueror delays to take the life of the captive, and instead makes use of him. This is a continued war because if conqueror and captive make some compact for obedience on the one side and limited power on the other, the state of slavery ceases. The reason that slavery ceases with the compact is that "no man, can, by agreement pass over to another that which he hath not in himself, a power over his own life." (II. 4, 24)


"Of Property" is one of the most famous, influential and important chapters in the Second Treatise. While in some ways it is tangential to the question of what distinguishes a legitimate from an illegitimate civil government, some of the mos t controversial issues about the Second Treatise come from varying interpretations of this chapter. It is worth making a digression to explore these issues. And there are important points which are quite relevant to the question of how to distin guish legitimate from illegitimate civil government contained in the chapter as well. In this chapter Locke, in effect, describes the evolution of the state of nature to the point where it becomes expedient for those in it to found a civil government. S o, it is not only an account of the nature and origin of private property, but leads up to the explanation of why civil government replaces the state of nature.

In discussing the origin of private property Locke begins by noting that God gave the earth to all men in common. Thus there is a question about how private property comes to be. Locke finds it a serious difficulty. He points out, however, that we are supposed to make use of the earth "for the best advantage of life and convenience." (II. 5, 25) What then is the means to appropriate property from the common store? Locke argues that private property does not come about by consent. If one had to g o about and ask everyone if one could eat these berries, one would starve to death before getting everyone's agreement. Locke holds that we have a property in our own person. And the labor of his body and the work of his hands are properly his. So, whe n one picks up acorns or berries, they thereby belong to the person who picked them up.

One might think that one could then acquire as much as one wished, but this is not the case. Locke introduces at least two important qualifications on how much property can be acquired. The first qualification has to do with waste. Locke writes: "As much as anyone can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much by his labor he may fix a property in; whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others." (II. v. 31) Since originally, populations were small and res ources great, living within the bounds set by reason, there would be little quarrel or contention over property, for a single man could make use of only a very small part of what was available.

Note that Locke has, thus far, been talking about hunting and gathering, and the kinds of limitations which reason imposes on the kind of property that hunters and gatherers hold. In the next section he turns to agriculture and the ownership of land a nd the kinds of limitations there are on that kind of property. In effect, we see the evolution of the state of nature from a hunter/gatherer kind of society to that of a farming and agricultural society. Once again it is labor which imposes limitations upon how much land can be inclosed. It is only as much as one can work. But there is an additional qualification. Locke says: <

Nor was the appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough and as good left; and more than the as yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less for othe rs because of his enclosure for himself: for he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. No body could consider himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole riv er of the same water left to quench his thirst: and the case of land and water, where there is enough, is perfectly the same.

The next stage in the evolution of the state of nature involves the introduction of money. Locke remarks that before the introduction of money,

...before the desire of having more than one needed had altered the intrinsic value of things, which depends only on their usefulness to the life of man; or had agreed, that a little piece of yellow metal, which would keep without wasting or deca y, should be worth a great piece of flesh, or a whole heap of corn; though men had a right to appropriate by their labor, each one of himself, as much of the things of nature, as he could use; yet this could not be much, nor to the prejudice of others, wh ere the same plenty was left to those who would use the same industry. (II. 5. 37.)
So, before the introduction of money, there was a degree of economic equality imposed on mankind both by reason and the barter system. And men were largely confined to the satisfaction of their needs and conveniences.

Most of the necessities of life are relatively short lived -- berries, plums, venison and so forth. One could reasonably barter one's berries for nuts which would last not weeks but perhaps a whole year. And says Locke

...if he would give his nuts for a piece of metal, pleased with its color, or exchange his sheep for shells, or wool for a sparkling pebble or diamond, and keep those by him all his life, he invaded not the right of others, he might heap up as much of the se durable things as he pleased; the exceeding of the bounds of his property not lying in the largeness of his possessions, but the perishing of anything uselessly in it. (II. 5. 46.)
The introduction of money is necessary for the differential increase in property, with resulting economic inequality. Without money there would be no point in going beyond the economic equality of the earlier stage. Different degrees of industry would g ive men different proportions. "This partage of things in an inequality of private possessions, men have made practicable out of the bounds of society, and without compact, only by putting a value on gold and silver, and tacitly agreeing to the use of mo ney: for in governments, the laws regulate the rights of property, and the possession of land is determined by positive constitutions." (II. 5. 50) The implication is that it is the introduction of money, which causes inequality, which in turn causes qua rrels and contentions and increased numbers of violations of the law of nature. This leads to the decision to create a civil government.

Before turning to the institution of civil government, however, we should ask what happens to the qualifications on the acquisition of property after the advent of money? One answer proposed by C.B. Macpherson is that the qualifications are completely set aside, and we now have a system for the unlimited acquisition of private property. This does not seem to be correct. It seems plain, rather, that at least the non-spoilage qualification is satisfied, because money does not spoil. The other qualifica tions may be rendered somewhat irrelevant by the advent of the conventions about property adopted in civil society. This leaves open the question of whether Locke approved of these changes. Macpherson, who sees Locke, as a spokesman for a proto-capitali st system, sees Locke as advocating the unlimited acquisition of wealth. According to James Tully, on the other side, Locke sees the new conditions, the change in values and the economic inequality which arise as a result of the advent of money, as the f all of man. Let us then, turn to the institution of civil government. This has been a significant topic for debates among scholars over the last twenty years.

The institution of civil government comes about because of the difficulties in the state of nature. Rather clearly, on Locke's view, these difficulties increase with the increase in population, the decrease in available resources, and the advent of ec onomic inequality which results from the introduction of money. These conditions lead to an increase in the number of violations of the natural law. Thus, the inconvenience of having to redress such grievances on one's one behalf become much more acute, since there are significantly more of them. These lead to the introduction of civil government.


Just as natural rights and natural law theory had a quite incredible fluorescence in the 17th and 18th century, so did the social contract theory. Why is Locke a social contract theorist? Is it merely that this was one prevailing way of thinking abou t government at the time which Locke blindly adopted? I think the answer is that there is something about Locke's project which pushes him strongly in the direction of the social contract. One might hold that governments were originally instituted by f orce, and that no agreement was involved. Where Locke to adopt this view, he would be forced to go back on many of the things which are at the heart of his project in the Second Treatise. Remember that TheSecond Treatise provides Locke' s positive theory of government, and that he explicitly says that he must do this "lest men fall into the dangerous belief that "all government in the world is merely the product of force and violence." So, while Locke might admit that some governments c ome about through force or violence, he would be destroying the most central and vital distinction, that between legitimate and illegitimate civil government, if he admitted that legitimate civil government can come about in this way. So, for Loc ke, legitimate civil government is instituted by the explicit consent of those governed. Those who make this agreement transfer to the civil government their right of executing the law of nature and judging their own case. These are the powers which th ey give to the central government, and this is what makes the justice system of civil governments a legitimate function of such governments. There are many problems involved with social contract theory which I will briefly mention here though we will spe nd no time on them. One of these is how many votes are required to institute a civil government. Must the vote be unanimous, a very large majority, a bare majority? On what principle would one decide this question? How do those who are born under a pa rticular civil government come to give their consent to it. The answer here is that by remaining in the community they give their tacit consent to the government.


We are now in a position to explain the function of a legitimate civil government and distinguish it from illegitimate civil government. The aim of such a government is to preserve, so far as possible, the rights to life, liberty, health and property of its citizens, and to prosecute and punish those of its citizens who violate the rights of others. In doing this it provides something unavailable in the state of nature, an impartial judge to determine the severity of the crime, and to set a punishmen t proportionate to the crime. This is the main reason why civil society is an improvement on the state of nature.

Given this characterization of legitimate civil government and all that has led up to it you ought to be able at this point to explain what characterizes the functioning of an illegitimate civil government. You should be able to explain how it is diff erent from a legitimate civil government, and in what ways the power exercised in an illegitimate civil government is related to despotic power. Form or quiz.


Since Locke is arguing against the position of Sir Robert Filmer who held that patriarchal power and political power are the same, and that in effect these amount to despotic power, Locke is at pains to distinguish these three forms of power, and to sh ow that they are not equivalent. Thus at the beginning of Chapter XV Of Paternal, Political and Despotic power considered together he writes: "THOUGH I have had occasion to speak of these before, yet the great mistakes of late about governmen t, having as I suppose arisen from confounding these distinct powers one with another, it may not be amiss, to consider them together." Chapters VI and VII give Locke's account of paternal and political power respectively.


Your last task in this section is to explain under what conditions one can legitimately rebel against a civil government, and what justification Locke would offer for the crime of regicide (King killing). To do this properly involves most of the philo sophical machinery of states of nature, war, natural rights and natural law which Locke develops in the course of the Second Treatise of Civil Government. It is thus a good test of you understanding of that work. It is also important for the ta sk which you are going to take on next. This next task is to explore Locke's theory of slavery in the Second Treatise to determine whether Locke intended this theory to justify the institutions of Afro-American slavery in the seventeenth and eig hteenth century.