Related Links in the Library:
Related Links in the GSR:
Source: This essay first appeared in the journal Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought ,
vol. III, no. 1, Spring 1980 published by the Cato Institute
(1978-1979) and the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the
editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio. It is republished with thanks
to the original copyright holders.
Karen Vaughn is an Austrian economists and political philosopher who
has written of the work of John Locke and the history of Austrian
economics in the United States.
Karen Vaughn, "John locke's Theory of Property: Problems of Interpretaton"
Table of Contents
The Problem: Locke, Liberalism, and Property
John Locke's major political analysis, The Two Treatises of Government
(1690),1 has long been
hailed as a seminal work in the history of political liberalism. In the Second
Treatise especially, it is generally recognized, Locke argues the case
for individual natural rights, limited government depending on the consent of
the governed, separation of powers within government, and most radically, the
right of people within a society to depose rulers who fail to uphold their end
of the social contract. While the history of the writing of the Treatises
shows that it was first conceived and executed as a revolutionary tract,2
its importance has far exceeded the specific revolutionary machinations which
occasioned it. Although the nature of its influence on subsequent ideas is debated
among scholars, few question its powerful influence on French, American, and,
to a lesser extent, Spanish revolutionaries in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries.3 As a work
in political philosophy, its theoretical influence is no less acknowledged.
Despite the familiarity which even casual students of the history of political
theory have with this much discussed and quoted work, there is little about
it that has not aroused controversy among Locke scholars. What may seem obvious
to the occasional reader provides a bone of contention for endless debate within
academia. While this scholarly dissension may not distinguish Locke's writings
from those of any other important thinker, it does create (or rather reflect)
interesting problems of interpretation for anyone who would understand the roots
of political liberalism. This is especially true in one of the most debated
and controversial areas of Locke's political philosophy, his theory of property.
For most of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Locke's theory of property
as found in the Second Treatise of Civil Government was regarded as
the cornerstone of classical liberalism.4
His attempt to ground the right to property in natural law was seen to be an
important device for asserting the rights of individuals against the state and
for limiting the moral authority of the state in a crucial area of human endeavor.
The theory of property was understood to be central to the structure of Locke's
argument in the Second Treatise in that it serves as an explanation
for the existence of government and a criterion for evaluating the performance
of government. Locke's individualist, private property stance was not always
admired or believed to be without flaw, but criticism was leveled within the
context of Locke's claim to a place as a liberal philosopher. He was understood
as a constitutionalist liberal who provided a mediocre defense of private property.
In the middle part of the twentieth century, the whole constitutional-limited
government-liberal enterprise has been called into question, and part of the
questioning process has been a renewed interest in the political philosophy
of John Locke. Heralding the new interest in Locke were three studies that challenged
Locke's credentials as a classical liberal and all based their challenge on
a reading of Locke's theory of property. The works of Willmoore Kendall, Leo
Strauss, and C.B. MacPherson all argued that Locke was not at all what he was
supposed to be, and they thereby opened up a new investigation of the meaning
and importance of Locke's theory of property in his political thought.
Locke's Theory of Property In Outline
The outline of Locke's theory of property in the Second Treatise is
well-known. He begins his discussion of the origin of property in the state
of nature, that pre-political state so familiar to seventeenth century philosophers.5
In this state of nature, according to Locke, men were born free and equal: free
to do what they wished without being required to seek permission from any other
man, and equal in the sense of there being no natural political authority of
one man over another. He quickly points out, however, that "although it
is a state of liberty, it is not a state of license,"6
because it is ruled over by the law of nature which everyone is obliged to obey.
While Locke is not very specific about the content of the law of nature, he
is clear on a few specifics. First, that "reason, which is that law, teaches
all mankind who will but consult it," and second, that it teaches primarily
that "being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in
his life liberty or possessions."7
Hence, right from the beginning of the essay, Locke places the right to possessions
on the same level as the right to life, health, and liberty. While the right
not to be harmed in one's life or liberty might have seemed self-evident to
Locke's readers, the right not to be harmed in one's possessions might have
seemed less so. Hence, Locke devotes all of Chapter V of his Second Treatise
to tracing the steps by which reason teaches that men ought not to be harmed
in their possessions.
Appropriation in the State of Nature: Self-ownership
In Chapter V, Locke's premise, which he shared with most seventeenth century
writers, was that God gave the earth and its fruits in common to men for their
use. The problem he faced was to explain how commonly available resources can
become legitimate private property which excludes the right of other men.8
Locke begins his argument by identifying the one form of property against which
no other man could possibly have a claim in a world of political equals, the
property each man has in his own person. The idea of one having a property in
himself was not peculiar to Locke. It was fairly common in seventeenth century
writing and had been used extensively before Locke by Hugo Grotius. It was a
definition of personality—that which constituted the individual, and it
included one's body, actions, thoughts, and beliefs.9
Locke built on this concept of self-ownership when he used it to explain how
one derives a right to possess objects outside of one's self, his famous (or
infamous) labor theory of property:
. . . everyman has a property in his own Person. This no body has any right
to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may
say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature
hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joyned to
it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being
by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this
labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men.10
Although Locke uses the term labor to characterize the act by which
men create property, it is clear from the examples which follow that labor is
defined very broadly. Labor, for Locke, includes picking up acorns from the
ground, gathering apples from wild trees, tracking deer in the forest, and catching
fish in the ocean;11
labor ranges from simple acts of appropriation to production involving planning
and effort. It is a creative and purposeful act that extends the limits of personality
to physical objects previously in the common stock.12
After having established an individual's right to own property in the state
of nature, Locke goes on to define the right to property broadly enough to include
both "the fruits of the earth and the earth itself,"13
both the goods one creates and the land one cultivates. Furthermore, perhaps
to justify this strange doctrine to his readers, that "the property of
labour should be able to over-balance the community of land,"14
Locke goes on to claim that the right to private property worked to the advantage
of the population as a whole. Locke argued that private property was not only
moral, but useful, because "'tis labour indeed that puts the difference
of value on every thing; and let any one consider, what the difference is between
an acre of land planted with tobacco, or sugar, sown with wheat or barley; and
an acre of the same land lying in common, without husbandry upon it, and he
will find, that the improvement of labour makes the far greater part of the
implication is that unassisted nature really provides very little that is useful
to mankind. This can be interpreted tautologically since labor includes every
act of appropriation and acorns lying on the ground have no value to human life
until they are picked up and eaten, but Locke means more than this.
"I think it will be but a very modest computation to say, that of the
products of the earth useful to the life of man, 9/10 are the effects of labour:
nay, if we will rightly estimate things as they come to our use, and cast up
the several expenses about them, what in them is purely owing to nature, and
what to labour, we shall find, that in most of them 99/100 are wholly to be
put on the account of labour."16
In fact, he argues that the raw materials of the goods men consume daily are
really the least part of the pleasures enjoyed from them since "labour
makes the far greatest part of the value of things we enjoy in this world."17
Hence it should be no cause for complaint if natural law dictates that labor
guarantees the right to property since labor is at least 9/10ths responsible
for the value of goods created. God may have given the world to men, but in
order to enjoy the gift, men have to create property by exercising their creative
intelligence and their bodies in physical labor.18
Limits on Property in the State of Nature
While Locke argues that men have a right to create and enjoy their property,
he also argues that there are limits to that right in the state of nature. The
first limit is alluded to when he describes how property is created. He says,
"Labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he
can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough
and as good left in common for others."19
The implication is that one's right to property is only clear and exclusive
so long as it doesn't jeopardize anyone else's ability to create equivalent
kinds of property for himself. Locke does not stress this limitation, but puts
most of the force of the limitation on property on his next argument. As much
property "as anyone can make use of to any advantage of life before it
spoils; so much he may by his labour fix a property in. Whatever is beyond this,
is more than his share, and belongs to others." The reason for this limit
is that "Nothing was made by God for Man to spoil or destroy."20
Locke infers that as long as men heed the injunction not to allow anything
to go to waste uselessly in their possession, there will in this early state
of nature, be plenty of land and resources to go around for everyone. He argues
further that originally in the state of nature, there was no incentive for anyone
to try to accumulate more property than he could use since most goods were perishable.21
In fact, Locke seems to describe an early state of existence in which populations
were small and resources abundant although the general level of wealth was probably
very low. There was no accumulation of wealth and relatively little land ownership
in a basically nomadic population.
The Money Economy as a Means of Overcoming
the Limits on Property
He apparently believes men found this original economic organization to be
inconvenient because he describes a process by which men find a way to accumulate
wealth by developing a money economy:
He that gathered a hundred bushels of acorns or apples, had thereby a property
in them; they were his goods as soon as gathered. He was only to look that
he used them before they spoiled; else he took more than his share, and robbed
others. . . . If he gave away a part to any body else, so that it perished
not uselessly in his possession, these he also made use of. And if he also
bartered away plumbs that would have rotted in a week, for nuts that would
last good for his eating a whole year, he did no injury, he wasted not the
common stock; destroyed no part of the portion of goods that belonged to others,
so long as nothing perished uselessly in his hands. Again, if he would give
his nuts for a piece of metal, pleased with its color; or exchange his sheep
for shells, or wool for a sparkling pebble or a diamond, and keep those by
him all his life, he invaded not the right of others, he might heap up as
much of those durable things as he pleased; the exceeding of the bounds of
his just property not lying in the largeness of his possession, but the perishing
of any thing uselessly in it.
And thus came in the use of money, some lasting thing that men might keep
without spoiling, and that by mutual consent men would take in exchange for
the truly useful, but perishable supports of life.22
Thus, although nature puts both a moral and an effective limit on the amount
of property anyone can accumulate, the amount he can use without allowing anything
to spoil, the limit is not defined by the amount of anything a person owns,
but by the consequences of ownership. As long as nothing spoils in one's possession,
it doesn't matter how much property anyone owns. Consequently, Locke reasons,
men will try to find ways of storing their excess products by trading perishable
goods for more durable ones that can be used in the future. In the course of
this trading process, he implies, one commodity, the most durable and easily
tradable one, eventually becomes commonly acceptable as a money commodity.23
Locke describes this process as men consenting to use money, a form of agreement
which enables men to avoid the disadvantages implicit in the original natural
limits to property ownership in the state of nature.
The Need to Protect Property Leads to Government
While the use of money is a reasonable way of getting around the difficulties
of storing wealth, its consequences are profound. Money permits the more "industrious
and therefore the more productive, to accumulate the products of their labor
and thus to increase their wealth relative to the less industrious or talented.
Furthermore, the growing accumulation of physical property and land puts pressure
on natural resources and makes it increasingly less likely that any individual
could find "enough and as good" land left over after appropriation
by others. Hence overcoming the spoilage limitation also implies the end to
the certainty that no one will be adversely affected by property ownership.
Locke seems to argue that the consequences will be property disputes and increasing
concern for personal safety, although these consequences follow as much from
the growth of population as from increasing resource scarcity brought about
by the introduction of money into the state of nature. The result, however,
is that men will find it greatly to their advantage to come together to form
a contract to enter into civil society and establish a government.25
The reason, then, that men form societies and governments is to protect their
property which Locke takes to include life, liberty, and estate.26
In the state of nature, with resource scarcity and men "no great observers
of equity and justice,"27
the ability to enjoy life, liberty, or one's estate becomes limited indeed.
By agreeing to give up his right to be a judge in his own case, each man gains
the benefits of increased order and security. Hence the ownership of private
property is one of the major causes of the existence of the state. Once men
form states, the government is expected to rule in the public good and not for
its own good, and one of the ways it fulfills this charge is by regulating property
so as to make it secure.28
Should the government fail to meet its obligations, for instance by arbitrarily
confiscating property, the citizens have the right to change the government.29
Difficulties of Interpretation in Locke
This outline of Locke's theory of property and the relationship to the origin
of government conceals a plethora of difficulties. Almost anyone who has taken
the trouble to study carefully Locke's theory of property comes away with a
great sense of puzzlement. The exposition seems fraught with inconsistencies
and partially explained ideas. Locke seems to raise more problems than he solves
and one cannot help but wonder not only what Locke meant to say, but also what
he actually said. The problems are by no means trivial ones. The kinds of questions
Locke scholars try to answer are some of the most profound in political philosophy:
Did Locke believe in natural law? What were the characteristics of the state
of nature where men were presumed to live without government? Was it peaceful
or chaotic, poverty stricken or comfortable? The answer to these questions implies
a view of the contribution of government to human welfare. How much property
did Locke think any one individual was entitled to own? Did he approve of acquisitive
behavior? Why should men be willing to trade their natural freedom for the restrictions
of civil society? Once they do, what is the status of property in civil society?
Each of these questions appears to have conflicting answers in the text of Locke's
It is, as a result, a fairly simply matter to justify any of a number of interpretations
of Locke's theory of property by claiming that his statements which support
one interpretation are the ones he really meant while the apparent contradictory
statements were slips of the pen. It is a frustrating problem of Locke scholarship
that such an interpretive process might be necessary and might even lead to
a correct analysis of Locke's meaning. How one decides which statements Locke
means and which are unimportant or slips is another question. Some have relied
on minute textual exegeses, others have argued that Locke's Treatises
can only be fully understood in relationship to his other work, and still others
have argued that the text is a cover for a hidden meaning that must be ferreted
out by breaking Locke's code.
The difficulties inherent in trying to discover what a thinker "really
meant" apart from what he happened to write down can be well illustrated
by examining the three unusual, even eccentric interpretations of Locke already
alluded to, all of which claim to provide the real key to Locke's political
philosophy: Willmoore Kendall's interpretation of Locke as a majority rule democrat,
Leo Strauss's (and Richard Cox's) view of Locke as a secret Hobbesian, and,
most important for Locke scholars, C.B. McPherson's analysis which labels Locke
as a capitalist apologist by revealing the possessive nature of his individualism.
Kendall's Locke: the Rule of the Majority
vs. Individual Property Rights
Willmoore Kendall's study, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule
(1941) was intended to illuminate the general problem of the status of the principle
of majority rule in societies. Kendall himself is obviously antagonistic to
the doctrine insofar as it implies the ability of the majority to trample on
the rights of minorities, so his characterization of Locke as "the captain
of the team"30
of majority rule democrats is not intended to be flattering. Particularly irksome
to Kendall is the more common view that Locke was the "prince of individualists,"
the champion of individual rights against the state, of limited government and
the sanctity of property: in short, the interpretation which we are advancing.
Kendall makes his case for Locke's essential majority rule collectivism by examining
"the most crucial of the 'natural' individual rights which he is thought
to have defended," the natural right to property.31
Kendall argues that far from championing inalienable individual rights, Locke
saw rights to be derived from social duties, that rights "inhere in the
individual as related to other individuals in a community whose characteristicum
is a complex of reciprocal rights and duties."32
Hence, rights can be withdrawn by the community should the individual fail to
perform the duty which guaranteed his right in the first place. The primary
case in point to Kendall is the right to property. Although he agrees that Locke
seems to give individuals an unquestioned right to the property they create
by the mixing of their own labor with land in the state of nature. Kendall claims
that "when Locke has to choose between the individual's right of property
in that with which he has mixed his labor and the common right of men to their
preservation, he unhesitatingly sacrifices the former to the latter."33
The crux of Kendall's argument is his reading and interpretation of Locke's
justification of private property. Kendall argues that a truly individualistic
natural right to property should include the assumption that a person's right
to property is inviolable and that it can never legitimately be set aside for
"the convenience and welfare of others."34
This, Kendall correctly points out, Locke never meant to argue. It is fairly
easy to show that Locke believed each man had a duty to preserve the lives of
others "as much as he can" and "when his own Preservation comes
not in competition."35
Locke clearly places a moral responsibility on the part of property owners to
engage in acts of charity in life-threatening situations. This in itself does
not mitigate the individualist nature of the right to property, however, since
it is not clear that a moral duty should be enforced by an agency outside of
More convincing evidence for Kendall's position are all the passages where
Locke describes the benefits of property ownership for mankind as a whole. Kendall
argues that the import of these passages is to make of property nothing more
than an expedient for improving the lot of mankind; property ownership is justified
not because it conforms with natural law per se, but because it is the best
means to the end of preserving mankind. Kendall further strengthens his claim
Indeed, in his discussion of property in land, Locke's language appears to
commit him to the view that the burden is always upon the exerciser of the
right of property to prove that "others" will not suffer from the
appropriation; and it is abundantly clear that he is thinking of the right
of property simply as a function of one's duty to enrich mankind's common
Here, Kendall has gone too far. It is unquestionable that Locke believed property
ownership would always benefit society as a whole, but the justification was
not one of expediency. The burden of proof was not always upon the
property owner to prove that others will not suffer from the appropriation as
Locke's Two Arguments for Property: Natural
Rights and Social Benefits
Locke's discussion of the origin of private property includes two sorts of
arguments in favor of property. The first is the natural rights argument where
self-ownership implies ownership of those goods created by men through labor.
This right is absolute in that it follows from natural law and reason, although
it is bounded by the limitation that no one may permit resources to spoil in
his possession, and, possibly, that there be alternative opportunities for others
to create their own property. The fact that there are limits to the right to
property does not make it less individualistic, however. God may have given
the world to men in common for their use, but God also gave to individuals the
rights to create their own property and to make use of it "to any purpose."
This is one of those happy occasions where natural law and individual rational
perceptions of natural law generally coincide.
The second kind of argument in favor of private property is what Kendall calls
the expedient. As we have seen, Locke calls attention to the productivity of
labor by pointing out in various instances how labor contributes to the greatest
part of the value of all things.
Let anyone consider, what the difference is between an acre of land planted
with tobacco or sugar, sown with wheat or barley; and an acre of the same
land lying in common, without any husbandry upon it, and he will find that
the improvement of labour makes the far greater part of the value.38
Labor produces far more of the value of products than does land:
'tis labour then which puts the greatest part of the value upon land, without
which it would scarcely be worth anything: 'tis to that we owe the greatest
part of all its useful products: for all that straw, bran, bread, of that
acre of wheat, is more worth than the product of an acre of as good land,
which lies waste, is all the effect of labour.39
These passages establish the relative importance of the contribution of labor
to the production of things people value and help to explain why natural law
would permit the "property of labour to over-ballance the community of
further points out that the increased productiveness of private land over common
land implies an increase in the economic well-being of the community as a whole:
He that incloses land and has a greater plenty of the conveniencys of life
from ten acres, than he could have from an hundred left to nature, may truly
be said to give ninety acres to mankind. For his labour now supplies him with
provisions out of ten acres which were but the product of an hundred lying
From passages such as these, Kendall concludes that Locke means to justify
property ownership by the social benefits it confers, that the expediency arguments
take precedence over the natural right arguments for property. This is not the
case. The social benefits Locke describes are dividends of property ownership
which he points out to quiet any grumblings from the "quarrelsome and contentious"
who might be apt to challenge the natural right to property. In fact, Locke's
discussion of the right to property is characteristic of his thought on many
issues. There is both a natural right dictated by natural law (and obvious to
anyone who will take the time to think about it) and a benefit that flows from
observing natural law; everyone is better off with private property in the state
of nature where "right and conveniency went together."42
When right and conveniency don't go together, as happens in the state of nature
after money comes into use, men establish civil governments to protect their
right to enjoy the property created by each of them in the state of nature.
There may still be an argument to be made for Locke as a majority rule democrat
within government where governments regulate the right to property,43
but the case cannot be supported with Locke's theory of property in the state
Leo Strauss's Locke: Hobbesian Individualism,
The Spirit of Capitalism, and Property
Whereas Kendall sees Locke as a majority rule democrat who does not deserve
his reputation as an individualist champion, Leo Strauss offers the exact opposite
interpretation in his influential Natural Right and History (1953).
Here Strauss argues that Locke's theory of property is reflective of the individualism
that leads to the "spirit of capitalism,"44
an individualism that was a more advanced expression of the political philosophy
of Hobbes.45 Although
Locke used the language of natural law and natural rights, of limitation on
property and of charity, the language was simply a cover that allowed him to
convey his true message while avoiding hostility on the part of the reader.
According to Strauss, Locke really believed there is no genuine natural law,
only conventional law, and there are "no natural principles of understanding:
all knowledge is acquired; all knowledge depends on labor and is labor."46
Locke in this reading is a hedonist, for whom the greatest good is "in
having those things which produce the greatest pleasure"47
—a materialist hedonist at that. Locke's true message in his theory of
property, according to Strauss, was that "covetousness and concupiscence,
far from being essentially evil or foolish, are, if properly channeled, eminently
beneficial and reasonable, much more so than 'exemplary charity'".48
Strauss makes of Locke an early Mandeville when he claims "By building
civil society on the 'low but solid ground' of selfishness or of certain 'private
vices,' one will achieve much greater 'public benefits' than by futilely appealing
to virtue, which is by nature "unendowned.'"49
Going even further, Strauss makes Locke an early Adam Smith when he argues that
Locke believed "restraint of the appetites is replaced by a mechanism whose
effect is humane,"50
the mechanism being money or, more accurately, a money economy.
Strauss's reading of Locke as a Hobbesian individualist is impressionistic
at best. He communicates a feeling about the import of Locke's message with
very little evidence produced from Lockean texts. Strauss's interpretation would
not even be mentioned here did it not raise some interesting questions for Locke
scholarship addressed by later writers. The first question is methodological
and asks to what degree can we read through an author's published words to the
underlying real meaning. Strauss reasons that if Locke appears contradictory,
perhaps he was deliberately contradictory to serve his greater purpose. Strauss
believes that Locke used the language of natural law and natural rights, charity,
and restraint to make his message more pallatable to his audience. By reading
Locke this way, of course, Strauss ignores or discounts all those passages which
drove Kendall to see Locke as a collectivist in individualist clothing. Strauss
and Kendall cannot both be right.
The second question raised by Strauss is substantive. Surely the elements Strauss
chooses to emphasize are present in Locke's writings. To what degree, then is
it correct to view Locke as embodying the "spirit of capitalism"?
Richard Cox and the Problem of Order in
the State of Nature
The methodological question raised by Strauss was addressed with unmatched
exuberance by Richard Cox in his relatively little known work, Locke on
War and Peace (1960). Cox argues that Locke wrote the Two Treatises
on two levels. The first level uses the conventional language of natural law
and biblical teaching to convey the impression that he had a perfectly orthodox
view of man's nature and his relationship to his fellow man. The second, deeper
level of writing, however, actually was meant to convey exactly the opposite
view, that man was a Hobbesian creature ruled by passions whose life would be
at best "nasty, poor, brutish, ugly and short" without the institution
of some kind of government to improve his lot, and that, to act effectively
the government in power would have to take account of the natural base passions
Cox's Hobbesian Locke: The Circumstantial
Cox bases his case for Locke's "secret writing" on two kinds of evidence.
The circumstantial evidence that Locke hid his true meaning is marshalled from
a reading of Locke's personality and the historical circumstances within which
he wrote. All Locke scholars have remarked on Locke's extreme caution with regard
to political matters. He rarely uttered a controversial word in the political
arena, and when he did commit himself to writing, he refused to acknowledge
his authorship. The same can be said about his views on religion which were
suspected of being heterodox in the extreme. He did not relish open debate,
and neither would he have been willing to lose his political influence as a
result of being embroiled in too much public controversy. Even more importantly,
where political writings were concerned, controversial doctrines were frequently
held to be seditious doctrines and could lead the author straight to the gallows.
This was the sad fate of Algernon Sidney, another writer of controversial political
doctrine resembling Locke's.51
Locke's caution with regard to his political views reflects his rational response
to the political uncertainties of his age, and provides acceptable evidence
of his desire to write as much as possible in the language of the majority view.
That the views Locke was trying to insinuate in his writings were Hobbesian,
as Strauss and Cox maintain, does not necessarily follow. Recent research has
established that Locke's immediate purpose in writing the Two Treatises
happens to have been exactly the one he described, to refute Filmer's divine
right of King's doctrine,52
and "to establish the true, original and extent of civil government."
The work was an integral part of his patron's, the Earl of Shaftesbury's, plot
first to exclude the Catholic James II from the throne and finally to establish
the Duke of Monmouth as the next King of England. Shaftesbury's plots were clearly
treasonous and Locke had ample reason to exercise caution concerning the publication
of his essays. Although originally written around 1683,53
he waited until 1689–1690 to publish the esseys after James was deposed
and Prince William of Orange safely ensconced on the throne. By then, it was
safer for writers to propose that governments rested on contracts, but to add
an extra margin of safety, Locke wrote an introduction presenting the Treatises
"to make good the throne of King William" to be certain William couldn't
perceive the Treatises as a threat to his sovereignty. Locke nevertheless
continued vehemently to deny his authorship of the Treatises until
he was on his death bed and had nothing further to lose by disclosure. His caution
is adequately explained by the radical nature of his arguments for government
by contract, the limited powers of even elected officials and the right of oppressed
populations to change rulers. Given the historical background of the Treatises,
it is unlikely that Locke would have gone to all that trouble of concealment
solely because his views may have had some affinity to those of Hobbes.54
Cox's Hobbesian Locke: The Substantive
Cox's substantive evidence for the Hobbesian nature of Locke's thought depends
upon a careful attempt to sort out the inconsistencies in the Two Treatises
in order to break Locke's code. His reading is ingenious and partially, if not
wholly convincing, resting as it does on Cox's interpretation of Locke's state
of nature and the conditions of men in that natural state. Cox claims that far
from describing an orderly and peaceful state of nature, Locke really intends
to describe a natural state where conditions are so stark and dismal that individuals
willingly escape to government.
Cox, as does Strauss implicitly, raises an interesting question. If the state
of nature is so congenial as many readers of Locke believe, why do men give
up their freedom willingly to government? Locke clearly states that there are
inconveniences in the state of nature where men are all judges in their own
disputes, and that "men are no great lovers of equity and justice."55
He also states that men have a natural sociability that drives them into society.56
Virtually no Locke scholar believes that Locke thought individuals could persist
in the state of nature for very long. But why not? Cox argues, as we have seen,
that Locke held a very Hobbesian view of the state of nature characterized by
ongoing battles and extreme poverty.57
As evidence of the poverty, Cox points to Locke's many statements about the
great value of labor and the relative worthlessness of land; and he cites Locke's
observations about the failure of men to observe the law of nature as evidence
of their inherent brutality outside of civil society.58
He insists that, given Locke's description of men in their natural condition,
although they may in principle have a right to life, liberty, and property,
they can meet the objective conditions necessary to enjoy these rights only
Problems with Cox's View of Locke
Cox carries his reading of Locke a bit too far to be completely persuasive.
In Locke's state of nature there is certainly relative poverty and some strife,
but the level of each is inversely correlated to the level of the other. In
the earliest stages of existence before the introduction of money, there was
no property accumulation, little land ownership, and, one can infer, a great
deal of poverty (although this is not completely clear. Locke does talk as if
men have as much as they "need" in this early time).59
We have seen that the introduction of money increases wealth both for the "industrious
who accumulate large amounts of property, and for those who benefit only indirectly
from the spillover benefits when others create property.61
However, the cost to mankind of the use of money is the increasing dissension
brought about by increasing resource scarcity and greater inequality of income.
Although by using money, men tacitly consent to the unequal distribution of
wealth and hence should have no cause for complaint, in fact "men are
no great respectors of equity and justice" and the enjoyment of property
becomes less and less secure. Contrary to Cox's argument, however, it isn't
necessary that everyone act contrary to natural law: or to be in a constant
state of war with everyone else in order for the state of nature to be intolerable.
The level of disorder could conceivably become intolerable if only a small percentage
of the population engages in criminal behavior.
An even more interesting problem concerns the possibility of disputes among
otherwise law abiding men in the state of nature. If increasing populations
and accumulations of wealth lead to a disappearance of the common property,
as Locke supposes, there will no longer be "enough and as good" left
for everyone, and there could easily be an increase in the number of property
disputes in which the title to property is not immediately obvious to everyone.
(Remember, it is clear that labor grants a title to property only where
there is enough and as good left in common for others. Where this is no longer
the case, perfectly honorable men could be unable to settle disputes about property
ownership when each is judge in his own case. This reading would still result
in rational humans desiring to leave an inconvenient state of nature, but it
allows them to do so with more dignity. It also makes it seem more plausible
that they could be rational enough to create property in the first place, and
to enter into a contract as formal as necessary to begin civil society. Furthermore,
this reading gives more credibility to the emphasis Locke places on the limitations
of government. If the state of nature is really as mean and miserable as Cox
believes, any government is better than no government, even for a short period
of time, and Locke clearly did not believe that to be the case.
That Locke believed civil society to be preferable to the state of nature is
unquestionable. However, it is equally unquestionable that he believed there
were limits to the powers of government, which limits derived from men's condition
in the natural state. When government tramples on the rights of individuals,
especially when it confiscates the property it was organized to protect, men
might very well reason that they would be better off with another government.
Locke argued that men would never again revert to a state of nature once they
contracted into civil society, but they would replace one government with another.
In an age accustomed to claims of absolute monarchs, this contractual theory
of government was a revolutionary statement. Men do have rights and they do
have power to control the government to insure that the government operates
in their interest rather than in its own interest. This is the radical political
message of the Second Treatise, and a message that is not primarily
MacPherson's Locke: Possessive Individualism
The question of how much of Locke to take seriously in assessing his theory
of property arises again in the work of C.B. MacPherson. In 1962, MacPherson
published one of the most original and provocative studies of Locke's political
philosophy. MacPherson's study of Locke was presented within the context of
a treatise on The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism in which
he argued that the distinctive feature of the individualism espoused by the
classical liberal philosophers was its possessive nature: its focus on the importance
of private property to individualist political philosophy.62
Hence, in MacPherson's work, the theory of property took center stage in his
overall evaluation of Locke. MacPherson argued persuasively not only that Locke's
political philosophy reflected the "spirit of capitalism" as had Strauss,
but he claimed even more strongly that Locke consciously designed his theory
of property to provide a rationale for the developing capitalist society of
seventeenth century England. He saw Locke as one of the first apologists for
capitalist appropriation and an advocate of the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie."63
Because MacPherson's interpretation of Locke is radical and undeniably Marxist
both in the structure of his argument and in his moral attitudes, it has aroused
a good deal of adverse criticisms.64
Nevertheless, the exposition is so tightly argued and the interpretation so
coherent that it has significantly altered the course of Locke scholarship.
No one can write about Locke after MacPherson without carefully considering
his position. It is necessary for serious Locke scholars to contend with MacPherson,
moreover, not because he is necessarily correct, but because he has managed
to ask many significant questions that arise in Locke's theory of property and
Locke's Hidden Assumptions: "Possessive
Despite the many inconsistencies which have been the bane of generations of
Locke scholars, MacPherson claims that Locke's political theory becomes completely
intelligible and consistent once Locke's hidden assumptions are made explicit.
Locke's alleged hidden assumptions are all elaborations of what MacPherson calls
"possessive individualism," the assumptions that people relate to
each other primarily as owners, that individual freedom is a function of the
possessions of individuals and that society is nothing but the sum of the "relations
of exchange between proprietors." The culprit responsible for such a philistine
society according to MacPherson is the very concept of self-ownership wherein
the individual himself is seen as a property and as neither a moral whole nor
a part of a larger social whole.65
The question of whether or not it is legitimate to interpret a scholar by relying
on "hidden" or implicit assumptions is one that need not detain us
here. It seems perfectly reasonable to assume that a writer may innocently fail
to state all of his assumptions, as MacPherson says,66
either because he believes they will be taken for granted by his readers or
because he, himself, doesn't fully realize they are his assumptions. The pitfall
of this kind of scholarship, however, is that one may inadvertently substitute
one's own assumptions for those of the author and hence be severely mistaken
about the author's true intent. This, I believe, is the case with MacPherson.
His own judgments about the nature of the capitalist economy lead him to gross
errors regarding Locke's view of the moral nature of society and man. The unfortunate
result is that while his reading of Locke's theory of property is sound in many
important particulars, his overall interpretation of Locke's theory of political
society is mistaken.
Property and the Class Society
According to MacPherson, Locke's major achievement in his theory of property
was "to base the property right on natural rights and natural law, and
then to remove all the natural law limits from the property right."67
He believes that Locke wanted to justify unlimited right to property in order
to ground the primary feature of capitalist society, unequal ownership of property,
in natural law. Further MacPherson sees Locke's justification of unequal ownership
leading to the reprehensible conclusion that only property owners were full
members of society, while the propertyless had fewer rights and an inherent
incapacity to make the judgments and acquire the information necessary to function
fully in political society.68
In other words, MacPherson's Locke envisions a society divided into two classes
with the capitalists on top and the downtrodden workers scraping along the bottom
under the yoke of political and economic oppression. MacPherson buttresses his
case by pointing out the flaws in the Locke-as-constitutionalist approach: this
approach emphasizes the limits Locke places on government in the interests of
property, yet it overlooks the very great power Locke gave to the political
community (his civil society) over individuals, e.g. the aspect of Locke that
gave Kendall cause for complaint. To MacPherson, both features of Locke's work
are consistent when it is realized that only property owners are full members
of society and therefore have mutual interests which eliminate the need to specifically
guarantee individual rights. All full members of society would thus agree on
the content of individual rights, the foremost of which would be the right to
MacPherson's careful reading of the origin of property in the Second Treatise
is especially interesting, because he was the first to emphasize the great importance
which the introduction of money makes to Locke's account of property in the
state of nature. Hence, he divides his analysis into two parts: the early stage
of nature before the introduction of money, and the post-money stage.
The Pre-Money Stage and Property Accumulation
In the first stage before the introduction of money, he notes the potential
limitations to the ownership of property remarked on earlier,70
the spoilage limitation ("as much as anyone can make use of to any advantage
of life before it spoils; so much he may by his labor fix a property in"),
the sufficiency limitation ("For labour being the unquestionable property
of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined
to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others."),
and he tentatively adds a third, the labor limitation ("Whatsoever he removes
out of the state that nature hath provided, he hath mixed his labour with, and
rained to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property").71
He correctly points out that the spoilage limit was the most important (and
confining) in Locke's system. If all men obeyed this limit in the early stage
of the state of nature, sufficiency was assured.
MacPherson also correctly discerns that the introduction of money transforms
the character of the limits to property ownership. He sees money as "transcending"
the limits of property by enabling men to accumulate as much as the want without
fear of spoilage.72
Instead of viewing this as a benefit to men: however, MacPherson questions why
anyone would want to accumulate more than he can make use of in the first place.
Why do men want to store wealth when there is originally as much land as anyone
could possibly want to work with? While anyone who considers the problems of
poor harvests, the uncertain futures, and the pleasures of greater comfort,
security, and convenience could readily supply an answer to this question, MacPherson
claims Locke does not supply it. He specifically denies that Locke assumed men
wanted more pleasure from the wealth they accumulate and instead argues that
they want the wealth for its own sake. He claims that Locke was a mercantilist
who believed the sole purpose of investment is to "beget further investment,"
and that the primary function of money is to serve as capital. The goal of accumulation,
according to MacPherson, is wealth and power, and hence Locke "justified
the specifically capitalist appropriation of land and money" as a natural
right in the state of nature.73
Although there are grains of truth in MacPherson's description of Locke's mercantilism,
his reading is far too simplistic to do justice to Locke. It is true that Locke
did not offer an explanation for why men wish to accumulate property in the
Second Treatise most likely because he took it for granted that his
readers would be able to supply the reason from their own experience. MacPherson
builds his case on Locke's hidden assumptions, yet this most obvious one he
overlooks. The desire for wealth is not unusual among men. It is certainly not
generally conceived to be irrational. In Locke's economic writings, to which
MacPherson selectively turns to support his argument, Locke clearly states that
it is the plenty of the necessaries and conveniencies of life that constitute
riches.74 Wealth consists
in the ability to enjoy an abundance and variety of goods. To claim that Locke
believed in accumulation for its own sake is bad enough, but to further make
him guilty of believing that money alone constituted wealth is to attribute
to him an absurdity unfound in the history of economic thought. Locke did favor
capital accumulation as a means of increasing wealth, and he did have a definite
preference for an increasing money supply because he though it would be an aid
to capital accumulation and increased wealth, but he never confused one with
another in any meaningful sense.75
MacPherson, however, accuses Locke not only of believing in a totally nonsensical
view of accumulation, he also claims that Locke believed this to be the only
true form of rationality.76
The Post-Money Stage and Property
MacPherson goes on to discuss the sufficiency limit and again points out that
it is overcome by the introduction of money into the state of nature. The consent
to use money implies men's consent to the consequences of a money economy: an
unequal distribution of wealth and an end to economic sufficiency, or in our
terminology, an end to resource abundance. In fact, we have already seen that
population growth is as much responsible for the end of sufficiency in land
as money, but certainly the introduction of money is a contributing factor.
MacPherson correctly states that Locke does not find this situation troubling
however, because of his belief that the other benefits of money economy more
than compensate. Because of the increased economic activity made possible by
the use of money, MacPherson agrees it will always be possible to find a way
to make a living through commercial exchange even if all common land is appropriated,
and hence Locke substitutes "sufficiency in making a living" for "sufficiency
in land" as a requirement for legitimate property.77
In fact, we can take this one step farther. Once money becomes a proxy for accumulated
real wealth, as Locke understood, the total value of the stock of wealth that
can be owned by members of a community is no longer limited by the amount of
land to which it has access and hence everyone can be better off.
MacPherson complains, however, that even though Locke allows for the entire
value of the wealth of the community to increase as a result of private ownership,
there is no guarantee that this wealth will be equitably distributed. He shows
that Locke makes the assumption that the standard of living of everyone will
increase regardless of who owns the property ("a king of a large and fruitful
territory there [in America] feeds, lodges and is clad worse than a day laborer
yet MacPherson still believes that Locke assumed landowners would gain at the
expense of the landless masses who will be forced to alienate their labor in
return for a subsistence income.
Evidence of the inferior status of the landless MacPherson finds in Locke's
discussion of wage labor. MacPherson correctly points out that Locke took the
existence of wage labor for granted even in the state of nature and hence never
meant to describe strict labor limitation to property ownership. In the very
beginning of the property chapter of the Second Treatise (Chapter V)
when Locke is establishing the connection between labor and property rights
he says, "Thus the grass my horse has bit; the turfs my servant has cut;
and the ore I have digged in any place where I have a right to them in common
with others, become my property."79
While it might seem strange in a passage aimed at showing how labor creates
the title to property to argue that the product of a servant's labor should
belong to the employer, Locke seems to have treated it as entirely natural and
understandable. If each man has a property in his own person, he has the right
to sell the use of that property if he so wishes. In fact, Locke specifically
describes the nature of the wage relationship as contractual:
for a Free-man makes himself a servant to another, by selling him for a certain
time, the service he undertakes to do, in exchange for wages he is to receive:
and though this commonly puts him into the family of his Master, and under
the ordinary discipline thereof; yet it gives the master but a temporary power
over him, and no greater, than what is contained in the contract between 'em.80
Obviously, a servant (or wage-earner) chooses to give up his right to the property
he creates in return for a guaranteed wage. His labor subsequently is at his
employer's direction and is a result of his employer's initiative, and the property
which emerges from their productive efforts belong to the employer. Locke does
not give a specific reason why a freeman would want to sell his labor to someone
else when he could work for himself and acquire his own property. Presumably
he believed a man would sell his labor only if it were to his advantage. Locke
believed that not all men are equally capable, so he might have believed also
that a less capable man would prefer working for another rather than taking
the risk of having to live on what he could make for himself. MacPherson, as
one might predict, sees the existence of wage labor in a much less benign light.
He sees landless laborers forced to sell their labor to landed property owners,
and concludes that "the continual alienation of labour for a bare subsistence
wage, which he [Locke] asserts to be the necessary condition of wage-labourers
throughout their lives, is in effect an alienation of life and liberty."81
Problems with MacPherson Class Rights Reading
of Locke on Property
All the rhetoric in MacPherson's examination of Locke's theory of property
aside, he shows a fine understanding of the mechanics of Locke's system. Although
MacPherson is mistaken in his reading of Locke's view of the unlimited accumulation
of property for its own sake, and the degree and source of inequity of property
ownership in the state of nature, his basic analysis of the development of the
property argument is correct. However, when MacPherson tries to show the implications
of differential property ownership within civil society, he seriously distorts
Locke's intentions. He tries to argue that beyond justifying unlimited accumulation
of property, wage labor, and the implicit capitalist economy in the state of
nature, Locke also "justifies, as natural, a class differential in rights
and in rationality, and by doing so provides a positive moral basis for capitalist
society, implying thereby that capitalism requires differential rights."82
It is in this part of his exposition that his negative assessment of capitalism
most interferes with his understanding of Locke's intentions.
MacPherson claims that Locke assumed first "that while the labouring class
is a necessary part of the nation its members are not in fact full members of
the body politic and have no claim to be so; and secondly, that the members
of the labouring class do not and cannot live a fully rational life."83
He includes both laboring poor and idle poor in his "labouring class."
His argument is essentially that the poor (which includes "all who were
dependent on employment or charity or the workhouse because they had no property
of their own by which or on which to work")84
because of the very poverty of their condition cannot lead a fully rational
life in Locke's eyes. He substantiates his claim by pointing to the several
passages in Locke's economic writing where Locke describes laborers as living
from hand to mouth or at subsistence. Like Adam Smith later on, Locke also alludes
to the mind dulling effects of most routine labor. MacPherson further argues
that when rationality implies property accumulation. those without property
cannot be fully rational.85
Locke's View of the Laboring Class
There are several grave errors in MacPherson's interpretation. First of all,
Locke did not equate the laboring poor with the idle poor in his assessment
of their moral status. He spared little sympathy for the idle poor who he believed
were responsible for their own poverty. In fact, he recommended severe treatment
of beggars by twentieth century standard, advocating forcing them into workhouses
to teach them to earn their own living and to keep them from the public charge.86
For the working poor, however, Locke had great respect, and he believed it was
the government's repsonsibility to create a climate wherein workers had every
opportunity to improve their income. The context of his statement about workers
living from hand to mouth suggests that they were unable to save anything from
their income, not that they were in dire economic straights.87
MacPherson, however, quotes a particularly damning passage from Locke's economic
writings, which seems to support his contention that Locke wanted to keep the
the labourer's share [of national income], being seldom more than a bare
subsistence, never allows that body of men, time, or opportunity to raise
their thoughts above that, or struggle with the richer for theirs, (as one
common interest) unless when some common and great distress, uniting them
in one universal ferment, makes them forget respect, and emboldens them to
carve to their wants with armed force: and then sometimes they break in upon
the rich, and sweep all like a deluge. But this rarely happens but in the
male-administration of neglected, or mismanaged government.88
The import of Locke's statement here, however, isn't to argue that governments
should see to it that workers remain poor; it is to argue that only mismanaged
governments disrupt the economy to the extent that workers are so badly off
that they take to the streets in armed insurrection.
Locke Opposed to Rigid Class Standards
It is true that Locke believed workers would generally live at subsistence,
that they would be poorer than merchants, farmers and landowners. It may even
be true that he thought the laboring poor to be on the whole less intelligent
and less industrious than those who are well off, although there is no direct
evidence for this. It is not true, however, that Locke believed they were inherently
less rational and had fewer political rights than property owners. For one thing,
Locke realized that in a money using (MacPherson's capitalist) society, anyone
could be a property owner. Everyone was a property owner by virtue
of his self-ownership and this property in self could be extended to property
in things and in money. Locke's real achievement was to extend the definition
of property to include all forms of wealth, and hence to extend the possibility
of property ownership beyond that of land. The capitalist economy that MacPherson
is so bent on denigrating, enables men not only to make a living by "alienating"
their labor, but also enables them to accumulate wealth if they are "industrious
and rational" enough. Fortunes can be made and lost, and wealth transferred
from the less able and lucky to the more able and lucky regardless of "class"
The assumption of rigid class boundaries is a major deficiency in MacPherson's
reading of Locke. It is true that Locke never specifically described the upward
mobile process, yet his economics is full of examples of changing fortunes.
Merchants especially become wealthy because they are adventurous and able, and
there is no presumption that they all come from some predetermined merchant
class. Simple day laborers may be poorer than other groups in society, but they
are better off than they would be without a "capitalist" economy,
and they have the possibility through diligence, to pull away from the pack
and make their way in the world, an alternative they would not have under a
more feudalistic social structure.
MacPherson, however, denies that this could ever happen. He argues that Locke
was inconsistent in his view of human rationality. On the one hand Locke assumed
that men are equally rational and capable of looking after themselves. Here,
he claims, Locke conceived of man in the image of the "rational bourgeois."
However, MacPherson also argues, that as an elitist, "The seventeenth-century
bourgeois observer could scarcely fail to see a deep-rooted difference between
the rationality of the poor and that of the men of some property. The difference
was in fact a difference in their ability or willingness to order their own
lives according to the bourgeois moral code. But to the bourgeois observer this
appeared to be a difference in men's ability to order their lives by moral rules
as such."89 Hence
Locke was forced to conclude that even in the state of nature, some men were
moral and rational and created property, and others were immoral and irrational
and made the enjoyment of property "unsafe and insecure." Hence, according
to MacPherson, differences in property, not only reflected differences in ability,
but also differences in morality and in rationality. Once the ownership of property
divided men into two classes, the differential rationality became inherent in
the class. Thus within civil society, the less rational were to be tolerated,
and well-treated, but were not to have full rights within a civil government
aimed at protecting property.90
Locke's Expansive and Classless View of
This analysis fails as a reading of Locke primarily because it takes a very
narrow view of the meaning of property as every other Locke scholar has commented.
To Locke, property was not simply land. Although Locke specifically reiterates
in several places within the Second Treatise that the cause for entry
into civil society was the protection of property, by which he meant life, liberty,
and estate, MacPherson consistently interprets him to mean solely estate, and
landed estate at that. But even if Locke meant only estate by the term property,
to him estate included the property one had in one's own person. This was in
jeopardy for everyone in the state of nature, rich or poor. Furthermore, property
ownership was not conceived of as limited to a few wealthy individuals on great
tracts of land, as MacPherson seems to envision. He seems to suffer from some
feudalistic preoccupation with great manors. In seventeenth century England,
property, even landed property ownership was fairly widespread,91
and when one considers the forms of property not tied to land (e.g. the commercial
property belonging to the important merchant class) clearly Locke was not describing
the principles of government which protect the few at the expense of the many.
Rather Locke was concerned with the protection of the many from the excesses
of the few who happened to wield political power. In his zeal to portray Locke
as the wicked defender of an even more wicked capitalism. MacPherson misses
the real thrust of Locke's argument which is to protect people, all whom are
property owners in one sense or the other, from the wicked use of political
Seliger's Locke and the Welfare State
The approach of Strauss, Cox, and MacPherson in interpreting Locke has been
attacked from many quarters. Peter Laslett calls MacPherson's reading "thoroughly
unrealistic and occasionally unhistoric."92
Alan Ryan provides a devastating critique of MacPherson by stressing the shared
interests of the laborers and capitalists in political society in Locke's thought.
He points convincingly to the absolute, arbitrary power of monarchs as Locke's
real target and observes that all men have property that is subject to government
encroachment. John Dunn argues that MacPherson's reading misses the traditional
Christian elements in Locke's thought, specifically the importance of charity
and duty, and presents as evidence Locke's notes on the just price to support
his contention that Locke was concerned with economic justice in the Scholastic
tradition. However, by far the most complete and convincing refutation of the
whole Strauss-Cox-MacPherson reading of Locke as Hobbesian and Marx-style capitalist
is presented by Martin Seliger in the context of his investigation of The
Liberal Politics of John Locke (1969).
Seliger's detailed reading of Locke is probably the most comprehensive treatment
of Locke's political theory in the literature today. His volume is both an exegesis
of Locke's writings and an attempt to investigate the nature of modern liberal
political thought. Here, we will be most concerned with his reading of Locke's
theory of property which he, too sees to be the linchpin of Locke's political
Political Equality vs. Inequality of Property:
the Need for Political Regulation of Property
Seliger begins by observing that most of the "confusions" found in
Locke's theory of property stem from misinterpreting Locke's attitude toward
equality. While it is clear that Locke posited political equality,
in the state of nature, he never assumed there would be equality of possessions.93
Hence, he had no need to "transcend" the law of nature to justify
unequal wealth as MacPherson would have it. Locke presumed that differing natural
capacities would lead to different amounts of property, and the use of money
would simply enable men to enlarge their possessions, not to create
inequality per se. Seliger is unique among Locke scholars in that he sees no
problem with Locke's assumption that men would want to enlarge their possessions.
Refreshingly, he understands the desire to accumulate property evidences good
sense.94 He also challenges
MacPherson on the supposed inferiority of wage-labor in Locke. He, too, points
out the contractual nature of the wage relationship and makes the important
observation that in order for a person to hire labor, the employer must be able
to exchange the fruits of his own labor acquired at some time past.95
He further stresses, as we have noted, the Lockean assumption that there will
be social and economic mobility.96
Seliger's critique of MacPherson is devastating, yet Seliger's own interpretation
of Locke's political philosophy is open to some criticism.
Seliger affirms that both the economic and political spheres depend upon consent
and agreements among adults. However, he further argues that of the two spheres
of agreement, the political sets limits for the economic and so is above the
economic in importance. While Locke seems to emphasize the right to property
above all other rights, his emphasis was symbolic. Just as his use of the broad
definition of property is symbolic of the rights to life, liberty, and estate.
Rather than having any special status, then, the enjoyment of property is subjected
to political decisions just as any right is regulated by the political process.97
Seliger supports his contention by showing that Locke always describes freedom
as bounded by law, either natural law in the state of nature, or conventional
law within civil society. Law is necessary to "maximize" freedom,
that is, to protect individuals from the arbitrariness of their fellow man.
Law, according to Seliger's Locke, is a formalization of the public will, which
itself is a resolution of the conflict among private wills. Within the legal
code, one major tenet is that "people should have property" and should
not have it subjected to the will of the government. To Seliger, Locke's major
concern was to protect property from arbitrary political ruling, not simply
to protect property per se.98
His reading exactly captures the essence of Locke's understanding of the relationship
between freedom and law, and it brings Locke once again into the tradition of
placing constitutional limits on the ability of governments to control the property
of its citizens. Seliger goes on, however, to claim further that Locke describes
a moral supremacy of the political sphere, and it is here that his
interpretation is open to serious challenge.
Seliger's Argument for Regulating Immoderate
Holdings of Property
Seliger supports his view by once again going back to property in the state
of nature. Here, he claims, Locke believes that the economic contract, (the
agreement to use money) allows men to satisfy irrational desires and distorts
intrinsic value of things while the political contract serves to overcome and
regulate the anti-social results of these basically irrational pursuits.99
He further contends that equality is a virtue and since there is a natural political
equality postulated in Locke's writings but not a natural economic equality,
he must have believed the economic sphere to be inferior to the political.
At first glance, Seliger's statements seem to make sense. Locke does use the
language of irrational desires and distortion of intrinsic values. He describes
an early stage of human existence "before the desire of having more than
men needed, had altered the intrinsic value of things, which depends only on
their usefulness to the life of man,"100
and later he argues that "The greatest part of things really useful to
the life of man . . . are generally things of short duration. . . . Gold, silver
and diamonds are things that fancy or agreement hath put the value on, more
than real use, and the necessary support of life."101
In interpreting these passages, however, we can use a small dose of Strauss-Coxian
reasoning. The language of intrinsic value is not an integral part of his argument
and perhaps can be read as a sop to tradition. Even if we accept the premise
that Locke really believed in some philosophical hierarchy of values, however,
this does not necessarily imply that he disapproved of the changes in values
brought about by money, or that the changes were irrational. In fact, all the
evidence presented so far in this essay supports exactly the opposite view.
Certainly, the concept of an intrinsic value of things that is morally superior
to market values plays no role in his economic thought.102
In Locke's economic writings, market price is specifically portrayed as reflecting
the value of goods, and he sneers a bit at those who would try to connect prices
with some preconceived view of intrinsic value.
Seliger's Argument for the Superiority
of the Political over the Economic
Seliger's second argument for the moral superiority of the political over the
economic realm is even less convincing. He claims that equality is a virtue
and since Locke posits a natural political equality and not a natural economic
equality, Locke must have been showing the moral superiority of political life
This is a somewhat surprising argument because there is no presumption in the
Two Treatises that equality is a deciding factor in evaluating the
moral status of a social order. Even if that were the case, it is not self-evident
that the actual political order is more conducive to equality than the economic
order. The whole issue is muddied by the fact that Seliger gives no discussion
of the nature of equality (but then, neither does Locke). There is evidence,
however, that if the equality Seliger has in mind is some notion of equal treatment,
Locke did see a rough and ready sort of equality in economic interactions. In
his short piece on the just price (mentioned earlier in connection with Dunn's
criticism of MacPherson) Locke states that the market price is the just price,
and that the economic activities of entrepreneurs in the marketplace will lead
to a pretty "fair and equal account." Locke, with a minimum of stretching
of context can be interpreted to have presumed some kind of equality of opportunity
existing in the marketplace.104
Seliger's Argument that Locke Favored State
Regulation of Economic Activity
Seliger goes on to argue, however, that the supposed moral superiority of the
political order over the economic order is further evidenced by Locke's attitude
toward economic regulation. This is a particularly important problem since Locke
explicitly stated that labor gives title to property in the state of nature,
but "in governments the laws regulate the right of property."105
Obviously, Locke means by this that ownership rights are subject to the protection
of the laws of civil society, but Seliger also takes Locke to mean by the regulation
of property, regulation of economic activity per se. Since Locke did not mention
any instances of economic regulation in the Two Treatises, Seliger
turns to the economic writings for specific instances of Locke's attitude toward
state regulation of economic activity, but reads far more into Locke's statements
about regulation than can be supported by the texts.
Seliger asserts that Locke did not in his economic writings oppose all forms
of economic regulation, only ill-advised ones.106
While this may be true in principle, in practice, it is difficult to find any
regulation he did not describe as ill-advised. His opposition to interest rate
regulation is well-known as is his conviction of the futility of price regulation
in general.107 Yet
Seliger claims that Locke favored "not only legislation that removes encumbrances
to all private initiative but . . . also [favored] limiting some for the benefit
His only example of a direct control favored by Locke is the statement that
it may be necessary to set legal rates of interest when "a kind of monopoly,
by consent, has put this general commodity [money] into a few hands."109
Here, Locke was conjecturing that previous legal interest rates had been set
below market and had fostered a monopoly of loanable funds among London bankers
which he then thought might justify setting a legal rate of interest below the
monopoly rate. This is clearly not a laissez-faire policy prescription, yet
neither is it an argument for "credit regulation" as Seliger suggests,
nor is it typical of an attitude that favors limiting private initiative to
"discourage the concentration of capital."110
The message of this particular example seems to be that previous attempts to
"limit private initiative" led to a perverse result and that England
would have been better off had interest rates never been set below market rates
in the first place. It certainly is stretching the passage beyond the breaking
point to argue that it shows Locke's concern for preventing too great a concentration
of capital for the sake of the public interest.
Locke Subordinates Government to Human
Seliger's attempt to show the moral supremacy of the political over the economic
sphere misses the point of Locke's writing. Locke's Treatises, like
his economics contain both normative and descriptive passages. Much of Chapter
V of the Second Treatise, the property chapter, is descriptive. It
describes how autonomous individuals with the desire for ease, comfort, and
enjoyment operate within the constraints set by nature to overcome the limitations
of the economic environment. In Locke's thought, government is the logical arbiter
of conflict exacerbated by economic growth. Government is not superior to the
economic institutions evolved by reasonable men, government is a means to accomplish
a desired end.
In his attempt to counter MacPherson's characterization of Locke as a partisan
of an evil, unlimited, oppressive capitalism, Seliger has taken the tack of
showing how Locke really believed in a limited, restrained form of welfare statism.
Seliger's Locke endorses government which controls the alleged excesses of capitalism
and metes out a measure of charity to those in distress.111
He sees the importance of the original contract to involve the limitations on
the arbitrary exercise of government power, but he does not stress, as Locke
did, the limitations on the moral authority of government over at least one
large area of social life: property creation and enjoyment. Seliger's Locke
would be quite comfortable with modern western-style democratic governments
where government undertook all manner of economic regulation and property transfers
so long as it could be shown to represent the "manifest advantage of the
Seliger takes for granted that the advantage of the public will necessitate
Perhaps this is one more instance of a modern commentator anachronistically
reading contemporary ideas back into the writings of an early political thinker,
or perhaps Seliger is correct that the nature of contemporary liberalism was
shaped by the implications of Locke's theory of property. Whichever alternative
is the case, it is clear that Locke himself would have been horrified by the
excesses of the modern welfare state on grounds both of efficiency and equity.
Locke the economist would have recognized the absurdity of much of the bureaucratic
maze that controls current economic life, and would have railed against the
foolish and inefficient forms of economic regulation to which the individuals
within the modern welfare state are subject. Leo Strauss was essentially correct
in his claim that Locke believed effective government would have to take account
of the passions (or interests) of individual citizens in framing legislation.
Locke's own economic pamphlets drive home the point again and again that regulation
which fails to take incentives into account is worse than useless. Current legislation
that erects disincentives to economic growth would probably have set him to
writing tract after tract with titles like "Some Considerations of the
Disastrous Consequences of Setting Up a Department of Energy and Lowering the
Supply of Petroleum Products." Locke made extensive use of efficiency arguments
in his economic and political writings because he valued wealth and economic
growth as important human goals.
Locke would also very likely have been horrified by the fiscal structure of
modern governments and here, his objection would be primarily on the grounds
of equity. While he believed that governments had the right and duty to regulate
property for the good of the whole of society, his basic premise was that "people
should have property."113
Citizens owned their property apart from the laws of the state; they voluntarily
agreed to tax themselves through their elected representatives; and however
one chooses to evaluate the true "voluntary" nature of such taxation,
the principle Locke was establishing was that property owed its origin to individual
right and initiative and not to the sufferance of the King or political concession.
The King had no right to arbitrarily confiscate or reallocate property among
citizens unless there was an overriding public interest. It is no doubt true
that the "overriding public interest" without clear agreement on what
constitutes such an interest provides the loophole for the modern welfare state.
Locke himself presumed such an interest would be obvious, and limited to alleviating
starvation and defense against the princes of other countries with whom Britain
existed in a state of nature, or at worst, a state of war. C. B. MacPherson
was essentially correct in arguing that Locke believed most people would agree
on the proper limitations on government control over property, but not because
he excluded all the poor and laboring classes from his definitions of "the
people." Rather, Locke believed that most people would be property owners
and would perceive that their wealth, lives and freedom would depend on limiting
the prerogative of the King.
Much has been made of a passage in the Second Treatise in which Locke
refers to "amor sceleratus habendi, evil concupiscence" as a cause
of corruption in societies.114
It is generally taken to refer to the lustful greed of selfish men and used
to argue Locke's aversion to acquisitive behavior. Seliger considers this one
more evidence of the irrational nature of economic wants. However, when the
reference is taken in context, it clearly refers to the greed not of productive
property owners, but to the greed of princes who lust after the wealth of their
subjects and who need to be restrained by the wary public.
Locke could not imagine men living long in a state of nature because he couldn't
imagine those ends being satisfied in a civilized manner without a government
to referee disputes and to provide a legal setting. However, it is incumbent
upon government to abstain from subverting the economic ends of its citizens
by overstepping its mandate. In this important sense, government is subservient
not to the economy per se, but to the wills of the people who above all desire
to protect their lives, liberties and estate. This is the overriding message
of the Two Treatises of Government and the relationship between government
and the citizen's property rights.
Full citations for works listed in the Endnotes
may be found in the following Bibliography.
1. Peter Laslett, ed. Two Treatises
of Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960). All references
to Locke's Second Treatise are to Laslett's edition.
2. Laslett argues convincingly
that Locke wrote the Two Treatises to provide intellectual support
for Shaftesbury's revolutionary plotting during 1679–1681. Richard Ashcraft
in a recent paper puts the date a bit later (1681–1683) which serves to
intensify its revolutionary intent.
3. Laslett's Introduction to the
Two Treatises, p. 3.
4. See Richard Schlatter, Private
Property: The History of an Idea (London, 1951); Pascal Larkin, Property
in the 18th Century with Special Reference to England and John Locke (Cork:
Cork University Press, 1930); Sterling Lamprecht, Moral and Political Philosophy
of John Locke (New York: Columbia University Press, 1918); and J. W. Gough,
Locke's Political Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1950).
5. The state of nature construct
was used by Thomas Hobbes, Hugo Grotius, and Samuel Pufendorf.
6. Second Treatise, p.
7. Second Treatise, p.
8. Grotius and Pufendorf, both
of whom were familiar to Locke, argued that men received the right to property
from the consent of the original communal owners in the state of nature. Locke
on the other hand denies that this is true ownership simply by virtue of God's
original gift. The major thrust of his argument however was not directed primarily
against Grotius and Pufendorf, but against Robert Filmer who had argued in the
Patriarcha that God gave the world absolutely to Adam from whom contemporary
monarchs were directly descended and who therefore had the right to parcel out
land as they saw fit by right of donation from Adam. See Locke's Second
Treatise, p. 304.
9. This was especially apparent
in Grotius for whom every individual was surrounding by the Suum, that
which belongs to a person, or was "proper" to it. Included in the
Suum were one's "life, limb and liberty . . . reputation and honor
. . . [and] one's own actions." See Karl Olivecrona, "Appropriation
in the State of Nature," p. 213.
10. Second Treatise,
11. Second Treatise,
12. Israel Kirzner has noted
the entrepreneurial nature of the labor which creates property, as has Karen
I. Vaughn. John Locke. Economist and Social Scientist. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1980.
13. Second Treatise,
14. Second Treatise,
15. Second Treatise,
16. Second Treatise,
17. Second Treatise,
18. Many political theorists
have assumed Locke was espousing a labor theory of value in an economic sense
in the Second Treatise although there is no support for such a belief.
See Karen I. Vaughn's article, (Winter, 1979).
19. Second Treatise,
20. Second Treatise,
21. Second Treatise,
22. Second Treatise,
23. This description of the development
of a money commodity appeared in Hobbes' Leviathan (1651) and shows
up again much later in Menger's Principles of Economics (The Free Press,
Glencoe, Illinois, 1950), p. 279.
24. Second Treatise,
25. Second Treatise,
26. Second Treatise,
27. Second Treatise,
28. Second Treatise,
pp. 371, 373, 430.
29. Second Treatise,
30. See Willmoore Kendall, John
Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule (Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1918), p. 62.
31. Kendall, John Locke,
32. Kendall, John Locke,
33. Kendall, John Locke,
34. Kendall, John Locke,
35. Second Treatise,
36. Kendall, John Locke,
37. Kendall, John Locke,
38. Second Treatise,
39. Second Treatise,
40. Second Treatise,
41. Second Treatise,
42. Second Treatise,
43. Consider, for example, Locke's
Second Treatise, pp. 349–50. "For when any number of men
have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have
thereby made that community one Body, with a power to act as one body,
which is only by the will and determination of the majority. For that
which acts any community, being only the consent of the individuals of it, and
it being necessary to that which is one body to move one way; it is necessary
the body should move that way whither the greater force carries it, which is
the consent of the majority." Locke's discussions of majority
rule probably referred not only to the entire body politic, but also to the
principle that in any legislative dispute, the majority of "Kings, Lords
and Commons." The three ruling bodies should be decisive. See Lois G. Schwoerer's
44. See Leo Strauss, Natural
Right and History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), p. 246.
45. Strauss, Natural Right
and History, p. 248.
46. Strauss, Natural Right
and History, p. 249.
47. Strauss, Natural Right
and History, p. 249.
48. Strauss, Natural Right
and History, p. 247.
49. Strauss, Natural Right
and History, p. 247.
50. Strauss, Natural Right
and History, p. 240.
51. Sidney was convicted of treason
for writing against Filmer's Patriarcha. Sidney used many of the same
arguments Locke had used in the Second Treatise. See Peter Laslett,
pp. 32, 64.
52. This was Peter Laslett's
major contribution in his introduction to the Two Treatises.
53. This is Richard Ashcraft's
dating in a recent paper "Radicalism and Lockean Political Theory."
54. In fact, I agree with Richard
Cox that Locke had absorbed and made use of Hobbesian ideas, but he cannot be
viewed as simply an extension of Hobbes, nor does the history of Locke's concealment
of his authorship support the contention that he did so solely to avoid being
called a Hobbist.
55. Second Treatise,
56. Second Treatise,
57. Richard Cox, Locke on
War and Peace, pp. 104–105.
58. Cox, Locke on War and
Peace, pp. 89–94.
59. Second Treatise,
p. 319 "[Before the invention of money], what reason could anyone have
there to enlarge his possessions beyond the use of his family and a plentiful
supply to his consumption, either in what their own Industry produced, or they
could barter for like perishable, useful commodities, with others?"
60. Second Treatise,
61. Second Treatise,
62. See C. B. MacPherson, The
Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1962), p. 3.
63. See Alan Ryan's article,
"Locks and the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie" (1965).
64. See, for example, Jacob Viner,
"Possessive Individualism as Original Sin" (1963); Peter Laslett,
"Market Society and Political Theory of John Locke" (1967); Alan Ryan,
"Locke and the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie" (1965); Paul Marshall,
"John Locke: Between God and Mammon" (1979); and Martin Seliger, The
Liberal Politics of John Locke (1969).
65. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 3.
66. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 5.
67. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 199.
68. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 200.
69. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 195.
70. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 252.
71. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 201.
72. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 204.
73. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 205–207.
74. On Locke's economic writings,
see Vaughn's John Locke, Chapters II and III.
75. MacPherson makes the mystifying
statement that Locke "identifies money and capital, and assimilates both
to land," without any clarification about what this means either economically
76. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 209–210.
77. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 211.
78. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 315.
79. Second Treatise,
80. Second Treatise,
81. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 220.
82. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 221. Although MacPherson never specifically explains why he
believes capitalism requires differential rights, he probably has some vague
idea that because incomes are unequal in capitalist societies this must be justified
by differences in rights rather than in capacities.
83. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 221–222.
84. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 222.
85. MacPherson, Political
Theory, p. 222.
86. See Fox-Bourne's biography
for Locke's poor law reform.
87. Locke's Some Considerations,
p. 34. For more on Locke's attitude toward the poor see the article by Vaughn
(1979). Locke's Some Considerations appears in his Several Papers
Relating to Money, Interest and Trade, Etc.
88. Locke, Some Considerations,
89. MacPherson, Political
Theory, pp. 245–246. MacPherson here seems to view all possible moral
codes as equally valid: both the "bourgeoisie" code that preaches
work hard, accumulate, and be well off, and one that says don't bother working
very hard but depend on the efforts of others to sustain you. He also seems
to be suggesting that there really were significant differences in rationality
between rich and poor as well as differences in values.
90. MacPherson, Political
Theory, pp. 446–447.
91. Laslett, The World We
Have Lost (1965).
92. Laslett's, Introduction,
93. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, p. 144.
94. "Indeed, Locke's thoughts
on this subject were those any sensible person would entertain." Seliger,
The Liberal Politics of John Locke, p. 155.
95. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, pp. 161–162.
96. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, p. 164.
97. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, pp. 165–167.
98. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, pp. 167–170.
99. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, pp. 171–172.
100. Second Treatise,
101. Second Treatise,
102. On this, see Vaughn's
103. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, p. 172.
104. See John Dunn, The
Political Thought of John Locke(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1969), pp. 84–87; and Vaughn, John Locke: Economist and Social Scientist,
105. Second Treatise,
106. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, p. 173.
107. This is the major thrust
of Locke's first economic essay, Some Considerations. For a more detailed
discussion of regulation in Locke's thought see Vaughn, John Locke: Economist
and Social Scientist, pp. 113ff.
108. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, p. 173.
109. Locke, Some Considerations,
110. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, p. 174.
111. Seliger, The Liberal
Politics of John Locke, p. 176.
112. Locke, Some Considerations,
113. Second Treatise,
114. After "(vain ambition,
and amor sceleratus habendi, evil concupiscence, had corrupted mens' minds into
a mistake of true power and honour) . . . Men found it necessary to examine
more carefully the original and rights of government; and to find out ways to
restrain the exorbitances, and prevent the abuses of that power which they having
intrusted in another's hands only for their own good, they found was made use
of to hurt them." Second Treatise, pp. 360–361. Laslett
notes the correct interpretation of this passage.
Cox, Richard. Locke on War and Peace. Oxford, 1960.
Cranston, Maurice. Locke. London: Longmans, Green and Company, 1961.
_______. John Locke: A Biography. New York: Macmillan, 1957.
Csajkoroski, Casimir J. The Theory of Private Property in John Locke's
Political Philosophy. Notre Dame, Indiana: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1941.
Dunn, John. The Political Thought of John Locke. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1969.
Fox-Bourne, H. R. The Life of John Locke. 2 vols. New York: Harper
Gough, J. W. Locke's Political Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press,
_______. The Social Contract. 2nd ed. rev. Oxford: Clarendon Press,
Grotius, Hugo. De Jure Belli Ac Pacis Libri Tres. Edited by James
Brown Scott. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925.
Kelly, Partick Hyde (ed.). Locke on Money. Manuscript.
Kendall, Willmoore. John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1941.
Lamprecht, Sterling. Moral and Political Philosophy of John Locke.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1918.
Larkin, Pascal. Property in the 18th Century with Special Reference to
England and John Locke. Cork: Cork University Press, 1930.
Laslett, Peter, The World We Have Lost. New York: Charles Scribner's
Laslett, Peter, and Harrison, John. "The Library of John Locke,"
Oxford Bibliographical Society Publications, N.S. XIII. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1965.
Locke, John. Essays on the Law of Nature. Edited by W. von Leyden.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954.
_______. Locke's Two Treatises of Civil Government. Edited by Peter
Laslett. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960.
_______. Several Papers Relating to Money, Interest and Trade, Etc.
New York: Augustus M. Kelley, (1696), 1968.
MacPherson, C. B. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes
to Locke. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962.
Marx, Karl. Theories of Surplus Value. Translated by G. A. Bonner
and Emile Burns. New York: International Publishers, 1952.
Meek, Ronald L. Studies in the Labour Theory of Value. London: Lawrence
and Wishart, 1956.
Polin, Raymond. La Politique Morale De John Locke. Paris, 1960.
Pufendorf, Samuel. De Jure Naturae et Gentium. Trans. C. H. and W.
A. Oldfather, vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934.
Schlatter, Richard. Private Property: The History of an Idea. (London,
Schochet, Gordon (ed.) Life, Liberty and Property: Essays on Locke's Political
Ideas. (Wadsworth, 1971.)
Seliger, Martin. The Liberal Politics of John Locke. New York: Frederick
A. Praeger, 1969.
Strauss, Leo. Natural Right and History. Chicago: University of Chicago
Tuck, Richard. Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Vaughn, Karen I. John Locke: Economist and Social Scientist. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1980.
Yolton, John W. (ed.). John Locke: Problems and Perspectives. Cambridge:
Cambidge University Press, 1969.
Ashcraft, Richard. "Locke's State of Nature: Historical Fact or Moral
Fiction." American Political Science Review 62(1968):898–915.
_______. "Radicalism and Lockean Political Theory." Paper presented
at a Symposium on John Locke and the Political Thought of the 1680's.
March 21–23, 1980. Washington, D.C.
Dunn, John. "Consent in the Political Theory of John Locke." The
Historical Journal 10 (1967): 153–182.
_______. "Justice and Locke's Political Theory." Political Studies
Hundert, E. J. "Market Society and Meaning in Locke's Political Philosophy."
Journal of the History of Philosophy 15(1977):33–44.
Kendall, Willmoore. "John Locke Revisited." The Intercollegiate
Review 2(January-February, 1966): 217–234.
Kirzner, Israel. "Producer, Entrepreneur and the Right to Property."
Reason Papers, No. 1(Fall 1974): 1–17.
Laslett, Peter. "John Locke, The Great Recoinage, and the Origins of the
Board of Trade: 1695–1698." William and Mary Quarterly 14(July,
_______. "Market Society and Political Theory." (Review article of
MacPherson) The Historical Journal 7, 1 (1964):150–182.
Lemos, R. M. "Locke's Theory of Property." Interpretations
Marshall, Paul. "John Locke: Between God and Mammon." Canadian
Journal of Political Science 12:1 (March 1979):73–96.
Olivecrona, Karl. "Appropriation in the State of Nature: Locke on the
Origin of Property." Journal of the History of Ideas 35(1974):211–230.
_______. "Locke's Theory of Appropriation." The Philosophical
Parsons, Jr., J. E. "Locke's Doctrine of Property." Social Research
Riley, Patrick. "Locke on 'voluntary agreement' and political power."
Western Political Quarterly 29 (1976):136–145.
Ryan, Alan. "Locke and the Dictatorship of The Bourgeoisie." Political
Schwoerer, Lois G. "Locke and the Revolution Whigs." Paper presented
at a symposium on John Locke and The Political Thought of the 1680's.
March 21–23, 1980. Washington, D.C.
Vaughn, Karen I. "John Locke and the Labor Theory of Value." Journal
of Libertarian Studies 2, 4(Winter, 1979):311–326.
Viner, Jacob. "Possessive Individualism as Original Sin." Canadian
Journal of Economics and Political Science 29(1963):548–560.
von Leyden, W. "John Locke and Natural Law." Philosophy