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Subject:  Re: Week 2 Reading: Locke's The Second Treatise Date:  8/18/2012  8:45 AM
Author:  tabs101 Number:  23706 of 23810

As I near the end of chapter 2, I am going to attempt to synthesize my thoughts by writing a scenario that embeds, or at least attempts to, some of the main concepts discussed in the text.

If you lived alone on an island, very little of what we are about to discuss is of much relevance. Alone on an island, Locke would argue that while the laws of nature still applied to you, these laws would only be significant if another person or people ended up on the island with you.

Imagine a scenario where other people begin to inhabit the island you are on, a place you like to call “your island”. Is the island your property, and like an invader of your home, do you have a *right* to kill these people?

Before proceeding, a discussion about the previous question is necessary? What exactly do we mean by “a right to do something”? What is a right? We know for sure that if you so choose you have the ability *to try* to kill these new inhabitants. But, the question is, do you have the authority to kill these people? If so, where does this authority come from? Is it legitimate for you to kill these people?

Questions about authority and legitimacy are what Locke focuses on in the Second Treatise of Civil Government (STofCG).

When we say someone has the authority to do something we mean they possess power for some reason and from some source. Legitimacy refers to the proper exercise of this authority. For what reason and by what authority are you killing the people who seek to live on your island?

A discussion of the origins of property rights seems to be needed. Is it correct to refer to the island as “your island”? Do you own the island? I think for now I am going to avoid this topic and attempt to focus on some of the bigger themes discussed in chapter 2 of STofCG.

Let’s imagine a scenario where you are unable or unwilling to use force against the invaders, who you now refer to as “the others”. You are content to leave them alone if they leave you alone. It is easy to imagine that given the constraints of the island there will eventually be conflict over its resources.

Different philosophers have different conceptions of the state of nature, which we are imagining this island to be. While their views about the specifics of this situation may vary, a common definition can be found: A state of nature exists in an environment where there is no government.

Imagine the others on the island quickly organized themselves and eventually came to possess a government.

You are not part of their society, of their government.

More to come....
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