Natural law and history in Locke's theory of distributive justice

Topoi 2 (2):163-185 (1983)
According to the tradition of natural law justice is inherent to, and should always be observed in, all interpersonal relations: the science of natural law is nothing more or less than the expression of such principles of justice. The theoretical peculiarities that crop up regarding the lawfulness of appropriation are determined by the indirect interpersonal relations that take place within the process of appropriation: though appropriation is an action directed not towards another person or his property, but towards tangible external goods, this action may have important consequences for other people. Therefore Locke's theory of appropriation is a theory of justice.Locke's solution is made possible by the methodological improvement which allows a clear separation between the natural law and the historical and empirical conditions of its application: this improvement is a consequence of the distinction between modes and substances established in Locke's Essay.
Keywords Social Philosophy  Economic Theory  Natural Law  Liberalism  Property Rights
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DOI 10.1007/BF00142490
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