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Locke – Lesson Summary

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John Locke was the philosopher of modern liberalism. He extended the social contract tradition, which was started by Hobbes. Locke, likes Hobbes, demolished any divine right theory of the state or the sovereign power.  His compelling account of limited government and its legitimacy based on the consent of the governed, become the basis of the modern liberal democratic form of governments. 
Locke believed in God as the creator, and human beings have the right to choose which god to believe in and how to practice their religion. In contrast to the royalist argument that such freedom to choose and practice religion should be seen as royal concession, Locke siding with the dissenters believed that it should be rather a matter of right which the state must protect and uphold.
According to Locke, human beings have natural rights which precede both civil and political society. These rights are: right to life, liberty and property. These rights individuals retain even after the formation of political society and the state. In fact the primary responsibility of the state is to protect these rights.
John Locke was a natural right theorist who provided a detailed account of limited government based on the consent of the people. He regarded certain rights such as the right to life, liberty, and private property of the individuals as natural, and therefore inalienable. The government exist to protect these rights. And these rights pose a limit to the exercise of sovereign power and authority.
 
According to Locke, the government should focus on three main tasks. First to ensure that through legislation, there are no ambiguities or confusions among the people about the established laws and procedures of the land. Second, it must institute an impartial judge who would adjudicate the violations of the laws. And, finally, there should be an executive arm of the government to enforce the laws and punish the transgressors 
Locke’s political theory, has a theological basis. It was reflected in his idea of men, their rights, and the role of government. His philosophy revolves around the notions of property, constitutional or limited government, and people’s right to overthrow the existing government when it becomes tyrannical.
Locke is accused of subordinating the role of women to men. They argue that Locke hides the sexual contract under cover of the social contract and considers men as naturally superior to women and hence fit for political leadership.