The Nature of Equality in Locke: God’s Command of Equality as the Rule of Human Conduct and the Principle of Political Society

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  his thesis is centered around notions of equality in the philosophical legacy of John Locke. In the first chapter of my work, I adopt and develop an interpretation of equality in Locke which places the religious elements of his thought into the
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    INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY KARDINAAL MERCIERPLEIN 2 BE-3000 LEUVEN The Nature of Equality in Locke: God’s Command of Equali ty as the Rule of Human Conduct and the Principle of Political Society Supervisor: Prof. dr. Raf Geenens  A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (MA) By Alžbeta Hájková   Leuven, 2014   ii Declaration of Originality  I declare that this Thesis is my own work and has not been published in  part or in whole elsewhere. All used literature and other sources are attributed and properly cited in references. Alžbeta Hájková Leuven, 2014   iii Acknowledgements  I would like to thank my supervisor prof. Raf Geenens for giving me very helpful direction during the process of writing this thesis. I would also like to thank my family for truly supporting me in my academic pursuits .     iv Table Of Contents   Declaration of Originality ................................................................................................. ii    Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................... iii   Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 5   I. Groundings of the Principle of Equality ................................................................... 9   II. The Principle of Equality as the Rule of Human Conduct in the State of Nature .................................................................................................................................. 23   III. The Nature of Equal ity in Locke’s Political Society  ......................................... 38   Bibliography ...................................................................................................................... 56    Abstract ............................................................................................................................... 59      Introduction  In the preface to  Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment  , John Parkin notes that when it comes to philosophers of the early enlightenment period, one of the “insinuating distortion[s]” with which contemporary scholars tend to approach these thinkers is the supposition that their thought represents “a transition from a ‘religious’ to an essentially ‘secular’ understanding of human relations.” 1  John Locke, the central figure of this thesis, is undoubtedly a famous illustration of the sort of thinkers whom Parkin has in mind. Unlike the book quoted above, this thesis will not be centered around Locke’s idea of religious toleration. Instead, in order to successfully grasp the subject of this thesis  —    Locke’s view on equality —   we will need to avoid precisely that bias about which Parkin warns us. In my discourse on equality in Locke’s thought, which I am about to present, I aspire to join the recent stream of Lockean scholarship that attempts to provide us with a more complex image of Locke’s  political thought, even if this would require to surpass the long prevailing image of Locke as a secular political theorist. Ross Corbett, one of the supporters of a more irreligious portrait of Locke, is convinced that the universality of Locke’s political thought is at stake “if its claims turn out to be accessible and even sensible only o n the  basis of privileged religious insights and traditions.” 2  While I agree that to some extent this may be true, meticulous and open-minded interpretation should always have priority over efforts to present a thinker’s oeuvre as compatible with the curre nt  political and societal trends. Jeremy Waldron’s book God, Locke and Equality: Christian Foundations of John  Locke’s Political Thought   embodies such an unbiased interpretation, which is why in the first part of my thesis I expand on Waldron’s view that “ since humans can understand their creation, they have a special (and equal) status in creation, which morality must take account of.” 3  Waldron takes notions of equality in Locke to be anchored in the capacity for abstraction that God bestowed on men. In order to show 1  John Parkin, introduction to  Natural Law and Toleration in the Early Enlightenment  , ed. Jon Parkin and Timothy Stanton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), x.   2   Ross J. Corbett, “Locke’s Biblical Critique,” The Review of Politics  74, no. 1 (2012): 28.   3   Jeremy Waldron, “Response to Critics,” The Review of Politics  67, no. 3 (2005): 503.  
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