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Two Treatises of Government:
Originally published: London: Printed for Awnsham and John Churchill, 1698. , 358 pp. Reprint of the third edition. John Locke's Two Treatises of Government was written during the period
of Whig opposition to Charles II and James II in the1680s. Published a
year after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 brought William and Mary
to the throne, it offers a theory of natural law that distinguishes between
legitimate and illegitimate governments and argues for the legitimacy
of revolt against tyrannical governments. Important contributions to
Enlightenment thought, these ideas remain influential today.
Reprint of the third edition (1689), the last edition published during Locke's
lifetime. In these two treatises the political philosopher John Locke espouses
radical theories that influenced the ideologies of the American and French
revolutions, and became the basis for the social and political philosophies of
Rousseau, Voltaire and the United States founding fathers.
In the first treatise Locke aims to refute the doctrine of the patriarchal and
absolute right of the divine right of kings doctrine put forth by Sir Robert
Filmer s Patriarcha. He examines key Biblical passages to prove that scripture does
not support Filmer s premise.
The second treatise offers Locke s positive theory of government, in which he
establishes a theory that reconciles the liberty of the citizen with political order.
His basic premise is founded on the independence of the individual. He declares
that men are born free and equal in their rights and that wealth is the product of
labor. In his revolutionary theory of the social contract he proposes that a legitimate
civil government must preserve the rights to life, liberty, health and property of its
citizens, and prosecute and punish those in violation of those rights. [via]