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Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

7. John Locke  

Hagar Kotef

This chapter discusses John Locke’s theory of the social contract, which became one of the primary frameworks of political thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It focuses on one of his books, The Second Treatise of Government, first published in 1689. Since Locke sees humans as essentially rational beings, he believes that even without a ‘power to keep them all in awe’, humans could live in relative peace with each other, form social lives, and regulate themselves according to the Laws of Nature. While seemingly presenting a universal individual, Locke’s social contract theory in fact contrives only specific individuals as the contracting agents: propertied, European (if not English) men. The chapter situates Locke’s contract within a global historical context by considering the voices that have been excluded from or marginalized within this story. Through these different figures—the servant (wage labourer), the wife, the Indigenous, and the slave—we see a series of tensions between formal equality and material, racial, and gender inequalities.


Cover Issues in Political Theory

Catriona McKinnon, Robert Jubb, and Patrick Tomlin

Issues in Political Theory provides an introduction to political theory and how it is applied to address the most important issues confronting the world today. It has a focus on real-world issues and includes case studies. The text examines important and influential areas of political theory. The text includes chapters on liberty, global poverty, sovereignty and borders, and the environment provide readers with fresh insight on important debates in political theory. Case studies in this text look at contemporary issues including same-sex marriage, racial inequality, sweatshop labour, and Brexit.