The Political Writings of John Locke

Classical Views of Liberalism

Classical liberalism, as expressed by Locke, contains the notions of both intellectual or physical liberty (i.e., the natural rights and freedoms of man with respect to society) and economic liberty (i.e., the right to own and transmit property). With respect to the development of property rights, Locke argued from the standpoint of both Christian theology and the development of early man. Locke wrote that, in the Bible, God gave the world to the "children of men," and that all men thus have a claim of sorts to the fruits of the natural world. Locked suggested that it is intuitive that a man who consumes something from the natural world, such as fruit from a tree or water from a stream, becomes the proprietor of whatever is consumed and digested, and that man is also the proprietor of his own body and abilities (i.e., labor). Therefore property exists intuitively, and the starting point where something becomes one's property is when one extracts something from the natural world; e.g., when a hunter kills a deer, the carcass becomes his property. The interaction of man and the natural world, described as labor or work, in that fashion transforms nature and creates something proprietary. Thus, combining labor and...

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