Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 59 (2):253 - 275 (1997)

Despite the great value of the main interpretations of Locke's view on the origin ofprivate property in his Second Treatise of Government (chapter 5) — their nature mostlybeing ideological — Locke's philosophical statement concerning the status of private property and its consequences can be understood in a more proper way by replacing his views in their historical and philosophical context. In this way, Locke's „discourse on government” seems to be an ingenious adaptation of the discourse of 17th Century political philosophy. By indicating Locke's use of the natural right tradition and by contrasting Locke's views with Robert Filmer's Patriarcha (1680), one is able to see where his philosophical and political views are conventional or progressive. The question why Locke used and assimilated arguments from Grotius, Suarez and Pufendorf to reject Filmer's Adamite theory and to legitimate private property in a non-absolutist way, is thereforeof central interest. So, Locke's natural right to preservation as fundamental for his right to revolution against absolutism, seems to be an appeal to a commonly accepted notion from natural law, turned upside down to an exclusive right in the framework of common property
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