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Author: albaby1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 23781  
Subject: Re: Week 2 Reading: Locke's The Second Treatise Date: 8/17/2012 3:44 PM
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This, however, does not change the fact that people are trying to control you, which is the definition of GOVERNMENT.

tabs101,

It is interesting to watch you try to work through some of these concepts in this thread. However, I think that this statement is wrong - or at least, it defines the term "government" in a way that is flatly inconsistent with how it is normally understood.

Government involves people trying to control other people. However, that does not mean that all contexts in which people try to control other people involve government. My wife and I try to influence and direct each other's behavior all the time - it's the nature of marriage. My 4-year-old daughter tries to control me as well, using the tools at her disposal (some combination of affection and tantrums, generally). A mugger holding you up at gunpoint is trying to control your actions; so too is your employer, who uses a variety of incentives and consequences to elicit desired behaviors.

None of these individuals are acting with governmental authority, nor are they exercising a governmental power, as we commonly understand that term to be used. We would never describe a kidnapper (for example) as exercising a governmental power, or acting as a government merely because he had seized someone by force. "Government" involves some claim of civil authority by the person trying to control the other person, typically deriving from some institutionalized framework of social organization. Clearly government can include organizational structures that act as governments but are not formally labelled as such - a tribal elder that enforces societal norms of behavior by passing judgments would be serving in such a capacity, as he is acting under a claim of authority which is recognized by others. But it goes beyond all instances of one party trying to control another.

You could construct a political philosophy wherein you define the term "government" to include all of these examples, and indeed any instance in which one party tries to control another party's actions - through force, inducement, bribery, or what have you. But you'll end up with some pretty weird results if you try to import that definition into the political philosophies of other writers.

So when Locke talks about a state of nature preceding goverment, he's talking about the absence of any asserted or recognized authority. People will still threaten, cajole, and actually use force against each other - but his state of nature contemplates that those actions are not limited by governmental authority, either informal or formal, but merely by the defensive actions taken by other people.

Albaby
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