Lockian Theory, Part 5 to blupete's Essay
"On Property Rights"
John Locke, while likewise justifying the existence of government, had different views than that of Hobbes. Locke, consistent with his philosophy, viewed man as naturally moral.8 The reason man would willingly contract into civil society is not to shake off his supposed brutish state, but rather that he may advance his ends (peace and security) in a more efficient manner. To achieve his ends, man gives up, in favour of the state, a certain amount of his personal power and freedom. Locke maintained that the original state of nature was happy and characterized by reason and tolerance. He further maintained that all human beings, in their natural state, were equal and free to pursue life, health, liberty, and possessions; and that these were inalienable rights.9 Pre-social man, as a moral being and as an individual, contracted out "into civil society by surrendering personal power to the ruler and magistrates," and did so as "a method of securing natural morality more efficiently." To Locke, natural justice exists and this is so whether the state exists, or not, it is just that the state might better guard natural justice.
Locke taught that individual property, along with life and liberty, was a natural right -- a right existing in the state of nature.10 The only purpose of government, according to Locke, is the preservation of these pre-existing natural rights. It follows, incidentally, that since the ownership of property is a natural right, the state, in the taking of it through taxation, save the situation where the individual consents, does so by breaching one of the three fundamental rights: the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to property.
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