Locke, liberty, and law: Legalism and extra-legal powers in the Second Treatise

Assaf Sharon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The apparent inconsistency between Locke’s commitment to legalism and his explicit endorsement of the extra-legal power of prerogative has confounded many readers. Among those who don’t ignore or dismiss it, the common approach is to qualify the role or scope of prerogative. The article advocates the opposite approach. It argues that Locke’s legalism should be understood within the context of his oft neglected conception of political liberty in terms of self-government. This not only allows for the reconciliation of Locke’s legalism with his endorsement of extra-legal powers, but also provides a fuller, more accurate account of the role of law and of political liberty in Locke’s theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-252
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Emergency
  • Locke
  • law
  • liberty
  • prerogative

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