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John Locke Against Tyranny

Summary:
The last five chapters of John Locke’s 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government (XV–XIX) are an extended argument that the rule of tyrants is illegitimate and that the people are justified in overthrowing tyrants. The three chapters right before that (XII–XIV) lay out some of the things a ruler can appropriately do, providing a contrast to tyranny. The titles of my blog posts on these chapters provide a good outline of John Locke’s argument here. Take a look. Chapter XII: Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative Power of the CommonwealthChapter XIII: Of the Subordination of the Powers of the CommonwealthChapter XIV: Of

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John Locke Against Tyranny

The last five chapters of John Locke’s 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government (XV–XIX) are an extended argument that the rule of tyrants is illegitimate and that the people are justified in overthrowing tyrants. The three chapters right before that (XII–XIV) lay out some of the things a ruler can appropriately do, providing a contrast to tyranny. The titles of my blog posts on these chapters provide a good outline of John Locke’s argument here. Take a look.

Chapter XII: Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative Power of the Commonwealth

Chapter XIII: Of the Subordination of the Powers of the Commonwealth

Chapter XIV: Of Prerogative

Chapter XV: Of Paternal, Political, and Despotical Power, considered together

Chapter XVI: Of Conquest

Chapter XVII: Of Usurpation

Chapter XVIII: Of Tyranny

Chapter XIX: Of the Dissolution of Government

Links to posts on the earlier chapters of John Locke's 2d Treatise can be found here:

Posts on Chapters I–III:  John Locke's State of Nature and State of War 

Posts on Chapters IV–V:  On the Achilles Heel of John Locke's Second Treatise: Slavery and Land Ownership

Posts on Chapters VI–VII : John Locke Against Natural Hierarchy

Posts on Chapters VIII–XI: John Locke's Argument for Limited Government

Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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