The Relationship Between Liberty And The Civil State Essay

1490 Words Nov 17th, 2015 null Page
Locke and Rousseau were both concerned about the relationship between liberty and the civil state. The civil state is a potential threat to the liberty of its citizens. For both authors this liberty exists naturally in the state of nature. Both authors use the state of nature to establish that liberty preceded political society and how a properly designed government can maintain this natural liberty. Because their method of deriving the ideal state from the state of nature is the same, the stark difference between Locke’s and Rousseau’s civil state must be attributed to their different conceptions of liberty.
For Locke liberty is the freedom from the arbitrary domination by others. According to Locke, in the state of nature we have the most liberty, as we have the least impediments on our actions. However within the state of nature exists the natural law which acts as a natural maxim on which actions can be judged just or unjust. Because the natural law exists before civil society it cannot be a product of the arbitrary will of others. The natural law demands that if its tenets are violated punishment must ensue. This punishment must give just reparations to the injured party, and serve as a sufficient deterrent for the commitment of future crimes. In the state of nature the punishment for violating the natural law is inflicted by the injured party upon the offending party. Thus each person in the state of nature can execute the law of nature
For Locke, the civil state is…

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