John Locke and the Theory of Natural Law

Dissertation, University of Kansas (1987)

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Abstract
The status of John Locke as a natural law theorist has been especially problematic for contemporary scholars. Although Locke appears to expound a political philosophy firmly rooted in the theory of natural law, many recent commentators have felt compelled to challenge this traditional reading. ;The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a critical exposition of John Locke's theory of natural law viewed in the intellectual context of seventeenth century natural law philosophy. Once Locke's doctrine is examined in its entirety and systematically developed in the light of other early modern natural law theories, it is my contention that many of the alleged inconsistencies can be resolved and a rather consistent, albeit incomplete, body of doctrines will emerge. ;The dissertation is divided into three major parts. The primary aim of part one is to critically examine Locke's account of law and moral obligation. This is followed by a consideration of Locke's alleged doctrine of hedonism. Part two consists in a reassessment of Locke's moral epistemology in order to ascertain the epistemological status of natural law. In part three I examine Locke's social and political philosophy. In this section, I show how the principles of natural law are employed by Locke to define the origin, character, and extent of natural rights, as well as the origin and character of both domestic and political power
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