What historical/political theory did John Locke’s theory of natural rights reject?  

1 Answer | Add Yours

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

John Locke, in his First Treatise on Civil Government had argued against the necessity of Absolute Monarchy. The latter doctrine had been supported by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan in which he had argued that the basic selfishness and wantonness of human nature made a strong ruler necessary in order to prevent absolute chaos. Instead, Locke argued for the protection of every person's natural rights.

Locke dismissed the idea of Absolutism in his First Treatise, and proposed his theory of everyones "natural" right to life, liberty and property (the term Locke used was "estate") in his Second Treatise on Civil Government. Locke argued that since all people had the ability to reason, they had the natural rights of which he spoke. Governments were created not to protect people from each other, as Hobbes had argued; but to protect and guarantee their natural rights. Locke's argument was written to justify the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in which James II of England was removed and replaced by William and Mary who were required to agree to the English Bill of Rights as a condition of their accepting the throne. Later, this same argument was used by Thomas Jefferson in supporting America's claim to the right of independence from Great Britain.  

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question