Essay on Individual Liberties and the Command of Government

1389 Words 6 Pages
According to John Locke, all men are born in a state of freedom. This freedom, however,

only emerges under the command of law, creating an interesting tension between individual

liberties and the command of government. In his work Second Treatise of Government, Locke

examines the construction of the social contract by resolving the tension between these two

doctrines. Freedom, to Locke, is the motivating force behind the social contract: there is no

freedom without law. Nevertheless, Locke invokes a hypothetical supposition of the State of

Nature, the natural condition of humankind, to explore the theoretical conditions of individuals

predisposing the establishment of organized societies. Law, in this line of argument,
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This does not mean, however, that it is a state of license:

one is not free to do all that one pleases, or even anything that one judges to be in one’s interest.

Ultimately, Locke’s view holds that natural liberties free individuals from the grips of absolutist

power, however these individuals are still bound by the divine laws of nature.

While Locke believed God created men, and that divine law existed, he did not

believe it was the same thing as natural law. Natural law can be discovered by reason

alone. The Law of Nature that governs Locke’s State of Nature is firmly rooted in an

interlocking relationship between the human faculty of reason and self-preservation. Locke

believes that all men are born with natural reason and that their reason transforms into

natural law and the need for perfect liberty: “the state of nature has a law of nature to

govern it, which obliges everyone: and reason, which is the law, teaches mankind” (9). The

reason that men possess is enough to keep their self-preservation in tact and the world fuels

their will to exist in a society that is in accordance with the state of nature. The notion that

reason is the cornerstone of natural law imposes a morality standard to social interactions

amongst peoples. An individual within the

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