What Does Locke Essay About The State Of Nature

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He argues that modern natural rights theories are a development from medieval conceptions of natural law that included permissions to act or not act in certain ways.This distinction is sometimes formulated as the difference between natural law and positive law.Natural law is also distinct from divine law in that the latter, in the Christian tradition, normally referred to those laws that God had directly revealed through prophets and other inspired writers.In Locke’s theory, divine law and natural law are consistent and can overlap in content, but they are not coextensive.Thus there is no problem for Locke if the Bible commands a moral code that is stricter than the one that can be derived from natural law, but there is a real problem if the Bible teaches what is contrary to natural law.The 10 commandments begin “Hear O Israel” and thus are only binding on the people to whom they were addressed ( ).As we will see below, even though Locke thought natural law could be known apart from special revelation, he saw no contradiction in God playing a part in the argument, so long as the relevant aspects of God’s character could be discovered by reason alone.The natural law concept existed long before Locke as a way of expressing the idea that there were certain moral truths that applied to all people, regardless of the particular place where they lived or the agreements they had made.The most important early contrast was between laws that were by nature, and thus generally applicable, and those that were conventional and operated only in those places where the particular convention had been established.Locke, they claim, recognizes natural law obligations only in those situations where our own preservation is not in conflict, further emphasizing that our right to preserve ourselves trumps any duties we may have.On the other end of the spectrum, more scholars have adopted the view of Dunn, Tully, and Ashcraft that it is natural law, not natural rights, that is primary.


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