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Philosophy, Rights and Natural LawEssays in Honour of Knud Haakonssen$
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Ian Hunter and Richard Whatmore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474449229

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474449229.001.0001

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Natural Equality and Natural Law in Locke’s Two Treatises

Natural Equality and Natural Law in Locke’s Two Treatises

(p.127) 5 Natural Equality and Natural Law in Locke’s Two Treatises
Philosophy, Rights and Natural Law

Kari Saastamoinen

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses John Locke’s account of natural equality as presented in his Two Treatises of Government. Together with its sister concept natural liberty, natural equality is often associated with the idea of Locke as an early representative of liberal political thought. Locke’s notions of natural liberty and equality are seen as sings of his commitment to the values of individual autonomy and political equality held central in liberal-democratic societies of today, and his political theory is read as a more or less successful attempt to articulate those values. The chapter argues that such approach to Locke’s remarks on natural equality is historically misleading, and they are best understood when we take seriously the fact that he developed his political theory within the parameters of seventeenth-century natural law.

Keywords:   John Locke, Natural equality, Natural law, Jeremy Waldron, Timothy Stanton

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