John Locke: Two Treatises of Government

(2244 words)
  • Mark Goldie (University of Cambridge)

Locke’s Two Treatises of Government is commonly called the founding text of liberalism, and it is held to be a classic statement of the theories of natural rights, the social contract, private property, and consent as the ground of legitimate government. This is an appropriate characterisation in the context of analytical political theory, and the text is studied chiefly by political scientists and philosophers. It is less appropriate as an historical categorisation. To its contemporaries the book belonged to a recognisable tradition of radical Protestant theories of resistance, the tradition of the Scottish Reformers, such as George Buchanan in his The Law of Kingship among the Scots (1579), of the French Huguenots,…

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Goldie, Mark. "Two Treatises of Government". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 April 2005
[, accessed 29 November 2015.]