Front Page Titles (by Subject) Jefferson\'s Declaration: Lockean or Scottish? - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2
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Jefferson's Declaration: Lockean or Scottish? - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1979, vol. 2, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Jefferson's Declaration: Lockean or Scottish?
“Jefferson and the Scottish Enlightenment: A Critique of Garry Wills's Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.” William and Mary Quarterly 36 (October 1979).
Garry Wills's study misinterprets Jefferson's Declaration of Independence “as a product of Scottish moral philosophy devoid of Lockean influence.” Wills dismisses the political philosophical influence of John Locke's Two Treatises of Government on Jefferson and reads the Declaration as primarily a product of the moral philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment (Thomas Reid, David Hume, Adam Smith, Lord Kames, Adam Ferguson, and especially Francis Hutcheson). Wills's contention ignores Bernard Bailyn's scholarship that identifies the ideological origins of the American Revolution with the writings of Locke and Lockean-inspired pamphlet literature of the Whig revolutionary tradition (which advocated the radical interpretation of natural rights, political liberty, and social and governmental contract theory).
Contrary to Wills, the Declaration closely echoes Locke's Second Treatise in both wording and ideas. Such similarities as may exist between the Declaration and the Scottish Hutcheson, derive from Hutcheson's familiarity with Locke and the political writings of the Whig revolutionary tradition of Locke, Algernon Sidney, and James Harrington. The other Scottish Enlightenment thinkers differed significantly from the rather Lockean Hutcheson in their political views concerning liberty and rights, particularly the right of political resistance.
The evidence—Jefferson's writings and the books in his libraries—clearly points to the influence of Locke, rather than of Hutcheson, on Jefferson. “Indeed, Hutcheson, who among the Scots comes closest in his views to those expressed in the Declaration, is not once quoted, cited, referred to, or recommended, in any connection, in any of Jefferson's writings!” The other Scots' writings were either unavailable for Jefferson or irrelevant to his radicalism.
Wills also misreads the Declaration as a discourse on Scottish moral philosophy rather than as a radical document of Whig political principles. Jefferson's phrase “the pursuit of happiness” indicates that men have a right to pursue happiness free from government meddling and prescinds from the moral question of whether this happiness is material or spiritual. Further, Jefferson in an early draft wrote that “all men were created equal and independent.” This “denial of man's innate sociability and sense of benevolence” is out of keeping with the Scottish moralists but is consistent with Locke and the Whig revolutionary tradition.
Self-Interest, Social Harmony, and Aggression
Does the pursuit of private self-interest lead to social order or to human aggression and a war of all against all? The following summaries pose this ancient question under many guises in such diverse fields as ethics, political philosophy, economics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and sociobiology. Should self-regarding behavior (egoism) be pitted against other-regarding be-havior (altruism), or can we reconcile these human actions through harmonizing “invisible hand” processes that, without human intention, achieve economic order or sociobiological evolution?
These questions, in turn, are closely related to the problematic origins of human belligerence, aggression, war, and militarism. Social scientist, Philip Slater in Footholds (1977) discerns three major theories of human belligerence: (1) humans are naturally belligerent due to an innate “surliness” that is biologically inherited but no longer functional as a survival instinct; (2) humans are naturally peaceful but are corrupted by aggression-instilling political or social institutions; and (3) humans are naturally peaceful but are corrupted by child rearing practices that socially reward belligerence but frustrate and repress peaceful pleasure-seeking. Arthur Koestler's recent study Janus 1978, offers a stimulating theory of “holarchies,” to resolve the problem of dependence, autonomy, and aggression in forming stable systems.
Of course, many other explanations for belligerence, social disharmony, and the relation of self-interest to the common good are possible, as witness the present set of summaries. These analyze such themes as spontaneous social order, invisible hand explanations, sociobiology (in relation to human selfishness, altruism, and evolutionary ethics), the self-regulating market and its social responsibility, egoism, the psychological distinctions between aggression and self-assertion, and the socio-political dimensions of individualism and the common good.