Compare And Contrast John Locke And Jean Jacque Rousseau

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John Locke and Jean-Jacque Rousseau present themselves as very distinct philosophers. They both use similar terms, such as, the State of Nature, but conceptualize them differently. In my paper, I will argue that Locke’s argument on his proposed state of nature and civil society is more realistic in our working society than Rousseau’s theory.
At the core of their theories, Locke and Rousseau both agree that we all begin in a State of Nature in that everyone should be “equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection,” in which we are free with no government or laws to guide one’s behavior. Although both philosophers believe in a State of Nature, they do not necessarily believe in the same concepts within the theory. In Locke’s
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Locke believed in a limited, representative government while Rousseau believed in a direct form of government by the people. Locke believed that the powers of the government are to be limited. He believed the government should only exist to protect life, liberty, and property and if the government were to overstep that authority, then the public would have a right to overthrow the government. As I said before, Thomas Jefferson paid homage to these ideals during his drafting of the Declaration of Independence. Along with separation of powers between the House of Commons and House of Lords,2 Locke’s ideals greatly influenced American government where power is vested in a bicameral legislature along with an executive and judicial branch. Locke’s Second Treatise of Government allowed for the ideal that no ruler or government could do whatever they pleased because there were moral laws that encompassed all of society. However, Rousseau was adamant in his belief that man “is born free and everywhere he is in chains.”1 Rousseau defended the right of the people to rule, he argued that the people were only accountable for themselves and the ruler or government had no right to subjugate the people. Locke and Rousseau’s idea of government are similar in the fact that they both embody some aspects of our government today. Rousseau inspired the phrase “We the people…”2 at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence because of his belief in the wisdom of the people to decide in their own affairs. However, I believe that Locke is more correct in his account of human beings and the ideal form of government. He inspired the foundation of our branches of government and ultimately his argument over civil society is more just than Rousseau. Rousseau’s

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