John Locke Vigilantism And Society

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Vigilantism and Society
In John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, he assesses vigilantism and its place in the state of nature and in society. Vigilantism is the act of a citizen, not connected to any governing body or law enforcement, taking the law into their own hands. Vigilante justice is not ideal according to Locke, and only is permissible when attacked in the state of nature. When one enters into a society, institutions exist that take the place of vigilantism. Locke’s argument about this topic is centered around the permissibility of vigilantism in the state of nature, the social contract, and the dissolution of government
Locke begins his conversation on how vigilante justice works in the state of nature. By doing this, he can
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This government is given its power by the consenting public through the social contract. Additionally, this government must conform to the will of the majority. This sets up how the transition of vigilante justice works between the state of nature, and into civil society. The role of justice belongs to the government, and more specifically, the judiciary. Locke describes what an individual gives up in civil society in chapter 9, and states that an individual gives up “the power of punishing and engages his natural force, (which he might before employ in the execution of the state of nature”. (67, §130). The concept (vigilantism) does not exist in society because institutions exist for that very purpose. Locke spends the next sections discussing how the different branches of government, the legislative, executive and federative, function. The legislature should be the most powerful branch, and the laws it produces should apply equally to everyone. When the legislature, and more broadly speaking, the government fails at these tasks of fairness and equality, a dissolution of government should take place. Locke states that a dissolution should occur when “the legislature is altered, the prince hinders the legislature from assembling in due time,” or “ when the electors, or ways of the electors are altered, without the consent, and contrary to the common interest of the people” (107, 109 §212, 215-216). Locke then connects his ideas of vigilantism, to the dissolution of the government. Vigilantism is only proper in the state of nature, but some aspects of it appear when he discusses the dissolution of the government. When the government fails, people have the moral authority to create a new government and a new legislation. Locke answers the question of who shall judge, when the ruler becomes tyrannical, by stating, “the people shall be the judge” (123, §241-42). The people

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