Assessment of State Power put forwards by John Locke in ‘Two Treatises of Government’

The essay will endeavour to assess the cogency of the justifications for state power put forward by John Locke in his “Two Treatises of Government”. Mainly the second Treaty emphasises on the inter-relation of property and formation of Government. Locke has provided a mixed conception of property throughout his both treaties. In his social contract theory Locke made property rights central to the formation and development of civil society and democratic governance. Locke’s argument was based on the natural law and where natural law fell short he relied on the Christianity. Locke believed that laws can only be legitimate if they are to promote the common good and that people will as a group do the right thing. According to Locke the reason for people to come under the governmental control was mainly to protect their property.

Get Help With Your Essay
If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!
Essay Writing Service

John Locke in his Two Treatises of Government has not given any clear definition of property and rather given a double meaning which refers to an economic right and a quality of being. Professor Reno, B Jeffrey pointed out that “Locke offers two revealing statements regarding the nature of property. In the First Treatise, he notes, “Adam’s property in the creatures was founded upon the right he had to make use of those things that were necessary or useful to his being”. In the Second Treatise, Locke says that property is to be used “to the best advantage of life and convenience”. It is significant that in the first statement Locke draws a distinction between property as necessary or useful whereas in the second he creates a union between property existing for life and convenience. Life and convenience are not rival goals such that one chooses to advance one or the other. Rather, echoing the empirical interpretation of the Law of Nature, one seeks preservation at all times and comfort when it is available. It is, however, possible to differentiate between goods that serve the advantage of life itself–necessities–and goods that serve the advantage of convenience–the useful. The need for property to fit such broad characteristics helps to make sense of Locke’s strange way of explaining its origin and purpose.”
Locke in his Second Treatises argues that property rights are justified because humans have a “right to their preservation” and thus have a right to ”meat and drink and such things that Nature affords for their subsistence.” Locke further asserts in Section 27 that ”everyman has a ‘property’ in his own ‘person’…[and that]…the labour of his body and the work of his hands… are properly his”. According to Locke, when a person removes something from the state of nature, he has ”mixed his labour with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property”. Because labour is ”the unquestionable property of the labourer,” Locke believes that ”no man but he can have a right to what [his labour] is once joined to…”. Peter Laslett noted that this famous passage, which almost contradicts Locke’s first principle that men belong to God, not themselves, together with the general claim that ’tis Labour indeed that put the difference of value on everything” are perhaps the most influential statements he ever made.” In this section we find a new element “labour” to his property theory. What follows from this section is that a person’s labour and its product are inseparable, and hence ownership of one can be secured only by owning the other. Hence, if a person is to own his body and thus its labour, he must also own what he joins his labour with – namely, the product of his labour. Herman T Tavani explains that Locke After providing an argument for what is required in the just appropriation of the various kinds of objects that reside in the commons, such as acorns and apples, Locke proceeds to explain how one can justly appropriate portions of the commons itself. He states: As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labour does, as it were, enclose it from the common. Of course, Locke does not believe that one’s right to appropriate objects or to enclose a section of the common is absolute – i.e., without qualifications. For example, he imposes certain conditions and constraints as part of his justification for appropriation. One such constraint is sometimes described as the ”no-waste” condition. According to Locke, one may take from the commons only as much as ”any one can make use of to the advantage of life before it spoils” .
John Willinksy notes that “Locke built his argument on behalf of considerable differences in the property holdings among people in two ways: first, by giving due weight to the productive value of labour, and then by allowing for the authority of majority consent to establish alternative economic arrangements. Yet it is important to note that in what follows, Locke keeps the collective principle of a world held in common in balance with notions of private property.”
It was evident from the Locke’s social contract that the notion of labour is central to his property theory. But in “Chapter V of Second Treatise illustrate that several conditions need to be taken into account in justifying property rights.” Locke had insisted that whenever something is appropriated from the commons, ”enough and as good” should be left for others who also wish to appropriate. Thus, Locke never assumed that the mere ”mixing of one’s labour” with something constitutes a sufficient condition for an individual’s right to claim ownership of that thing.
Peter Laslett has pointed out that “Locke’s account of the origin of property cannot be intended to cover all meaning of the word. For it is not defined as material possessions, nor in units of the conveniences or necessities of life but much more generally as “Lives, Liberties and Estates, which I call by the general name, Property” Laslett further argues that “for property to Locke seems to symbolize rights in their concrete form, or perhaps rather to provide tangible subject of an individual’s powers and attitudes.”
Locke’s First Treatises lays foundation on the concept of property in Section 86 as “the right Adam’s had to make use of those things that were necessary or useful to his being.” In the Second Treatises in Section 26 Locke used the notion “to the best advantage of life and convenience.” Professor Reno noted that in the first statement Locke draws a distinction between property as necessary or useful whereas in the second he creates a union between property existing for life and convenience. Life and convenience are not rival goals such that one chooses to advance one or the other. Rather, echoing the empirical interpretation of the Law of Nature, one seeks preservation at all times and comfort when it is available. It is, however, possible to differentiate between goods that serve the advantage of life itself-necessities-and goods that serve the advantage of convenience–the useful.”
What follows from the plain reading of Section 86 of Second Treatises is that property, both in the narrow and in the extended sense, is insufficiently protected and inadequately regulated in the state of nature and this is the critical inconvenience which induces men to “enter into Society to make one People, one Body Politick under one Supreme Government….. by setting up a Judge on Earth with Authority to determine all Controversies.” 
Locke’s theory of uniting Men under one Society was based on consent as it was in case of acquisition of property. Critiques like Ashcraft, Dunn and many others argued that in fact the reason was based on ingenuity and force rather than consent.
Locke believes that it is consent alone that makes civil society and such society requires political rights and obligations. The political power that Locke refers to is the power to make law for that society but it must all be for the good of society.
It can be argued that governments were originally instituted by force without any agreement, however Locke explicitly says that he must provide an alternative to the view that all governments in the world is the product of force and violence. He admits that some governments are instituted by force and violence but if that were the only form of government he would be denying the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate governments. According to Locke a legitimate government is instituted by the consent of the people being governed. 
Grant says that the establishment of government is a two-step approach. Universal consent is necessary to form a political community and consent to join a community once given is binding and cannot be withdrawn. She goes on to ask who rules and the answer is determined by majority rule. Universal consent is required to establish the political community and majority consent to the answer who is to rule that community. 
Radcliffe says that David Hume purified Locke’s empiricism by rejecting all supernatural grounds for philosophical principles. He set aside Locke’s idea of theological basis for his views and relied solely on evidence that sense experience provides. He asked whether history provides any basis for thinking that political power attains legitimacy through a social contract. Hume concluded that history does not provide any basis for thinking that political power arose through the social contract.
Radcliffe further shows that Hume uncovered another weakness in Locke’s social theory. The theory bases the moral obligation to obey civil government on the mutual consent and promise to be governed. However the contract does not offer any basis for the moral obligation to keep such promise.
The political obligation of obedience is on the same moral footing as the obligation to keep a promise. Hume argues that one cannot be based on the other and if the one is sanctioned then the other will also be sanctioned. However this creates its own problem that if there is no moral basis for the duty of fidelity to promises, the contract theory will not provide any moral basis for duties of political obedience. 
If there is a moral basis for the duty of fidelity to promises then that duty can also form the basis for political obedience and the social contract is unnecessary. Hume further argues that if all laws come from God’s divine will why not at the same time say that governments are established directly by God’s will.
Locke in his Second Treatise, gradually unfolded the government and its duties to the people. John Willinksy rightly observed that “Locke was to provide as firm a basis as anyone could imagine for the closely related growth of the empirical sciences, the rise of industrial capitalism, and the gradual unfurling of democratic government.”
What was the justification for Governmental control over people?
Locke in his Two Treatises of Government depicted a clear picture of the state of nature. Locke holds that Men choose to leave the state of nature and establish a government. They do this because the enjoyment of their life, health and liberty in the state of nature is uncertain and continuously exposed to the invasion by others. Therefore man in his natural state before money lived in a state of nature where each was producing only what they needed. The value of the goods they needed was determined by the value that the parties placed on the goods being bartered. As goods were perishable man did not retain more than what he needed to survive on. With the advent of money, man was able to hoard more money than he needed for his requirements. Families increased and industry started to retain more than what they required. This increased the inconveniencies to persons. To avoid the increase in quarrels which may lead to war, man agreed on laws to govern their relations and to form a government.
King argues that the consent to use money has one very important feature that may have been overlooked by Locke. The use of money allows a more complete fulfilment of natural law by promoting preservation and convenience. As it transcends the scarcity put forward by Locke it permits individuals to appropriate more than what they need. Once they have done so they will sell the excess and so assist in providing for the needs of others. King further says that since those who have more can make money they have an incentive to fulfil other’s needs and this in turn promotes peace, preservation and convenience. Since men are rational the existence of money creates the possibility of greater expressions of rational behaviour. King therefore argues that by overcoming the scarcity limits, the possibility for a more complete fulfilment of the law of nature is created as it allows men to engage in rational activity and such activity results in increased quality of life for all.
Laslett pointed out that Locke’s doctrine of property was incomplete, not a little confused and inadequate to the problem as it has been analysed since his day, lacking humanity and the sense of social co-operation to be found in the canonists who had proceeded him. Laslett argued that, contrary to the traditional view that Locke had composed the Two Treatises in order to legitimize the 1688 Glorious Revolution, they were actually written surrounding the Exclusion Crisis a decade earlier.
Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all stressed that the only way that the state can be justified is to show that everyone would in some way consent to it. They were all thus social contract theorists. The social contract theory supposed conception of political justice and obligation that is based on voluntary consent by the people.
That which the people choose to agree to is just and is according to their will. Kant says that people have a duty to agree to act according to the idea of the original contract.
There is the problem of justification and it is agreed that the way to look at the justification was by looking at the issue heuristically. As pointed out above Rawl has revived the social contract theory.
The concept of property has been changed since Locke but the social contract theory is still applicable to the modern understanding of property. There have been numerous attempts by the academics and modern social theorists to relate Locke’s social contract theory with the intellectual property rights and so on.

Put a Stop to Unnecessary Animal Testing

Cruelty- Free Products: Put a Stop to Unnecessary Animal Testing

 Many people are unaware that almost all cosmetic products in stores have been tested on animals.  Companies hide this act, and the pain and suffering it induces on animals, to preserve their picture-perfect reputation.  The means of testing vary, only with two results; harm or death to the animals.  As of now, there are not adequate laws put in place to protect animals and prevent them from being tortured and killed.  Consumers should be aware of the process of cosmetic animal testing, why it is unnecessary, and the alternatives.  Although animal testing is controlled mainly by the big corporations, everyone can do their part in slowing down, and eventually putting a stop to, unnecessary harm.

Cosmetic companies usually purchase their test animals in bulk and delegate a specific group to test a certain product.  The most popular test animals include: mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and monkeys.  “In these tests, the animals have chemicals forced down their throats, into their eyes and onto their shaved skin in order to document their reaction to ensure the safe use for humans” (Zuazia, par 5).  Oftentimes the animals are strapped into equipment that prevents them from moving their limbs [to rub and ease the pain inflicted on their eyes] and keeps their head upright (Fig. 2).  There have been cases where these restraints have caused broken backs in test animals because of their efforts to distance themselves from the chemicals burning their flesh.  Braces are then placed on the upper and lower eyelids to keep the animal’s eyes opened and exposed.  Blinking is not permitted and is only simulated by the experimenter in efforts to expose all parts of the eye to the foreign chemical.   The experimenter then examines the animals for such common reactions as: bleeding, swelling, discomfort, organ damage, birth defects, and even death (Fig. 1).  After this, if the animals are not yet dead, they are put to death without any pain-reducing drugs.  It is not in the companies’ interests to continue feeding the animals and providing basic care after they are contaminated with the products, so bags of the dead bodies are simply thrown out with the regular trash.  Unfortunately, this is the reality for an estimated 100,000-200,000 animals annually (Zuazia, par 5).  .

Figure 1: “The Truth Inside your Cupboard”     Figure 2: “Millions of animals are subjected to                                            painful tests every year.”

 It can be argued that animal testing is the most efficient method of cosmetic testing that will ensure the safety of consumers.  After all, it is of top priority to guarantee the welfare of humans, right?  It is cheap, somewhat reliable, and can easily be overlooked when profits start accumulating.  In favor of this argument, it is estimated that 95% of human genes are shared with mice.  This means that if a product has a negative reaction on a mouse, there is a good chance it will also harm humans.  Although animal testing is beneficial in other areas such as medical research, cosmetic testing on these innocent beings is completely avoidable and unnecessary.  After all, do we really need another lipstick?

Get Help With Your Essay
If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!
Essay Writing Service

 Fortunately, there are numerous alternatives to animal testing that are currently being tested and utilized.  Although these methods of ensuring human safety are much more costly than traditional animal testing, some people may be willing to pay more for products that are advertised as “cruelty-free”.  Some alternative methods are even more accurate, because there is always the chance that a certain animal gene will react differently than a human gene.  Many of these methods can be completed within 48-96 hours, whereas the results of animal testing are collected for up to 21 days.  According to the Humane Society, “nine out of 10 candidate medicines that appear safe and effective in animal studies fail when given to humans” (“About Animal Testing” par 6).  In other words, these cruelty-free testing strategies are a blessing in disguise.

The main types of alternatives used in labs today include testing with: cell cultures, protozoa, human tissues, computer models, and volunteer studies.  As for cell cultures, human cells are grown and replicated in a laboratory.  The produced cells then function the same as if they were in the body.  Scientists have progressed as far as creating 3D structures, and even devices that mimic body organs such as the heart and lungs.  These lab-produced simulations can provide testing on skin cells and organs that can show exceedingly more accurate results of irritation and other issues than in animal testing. 

Out of all cosmetic tests, there is a new procedure that stands out due to its convenience; the protozoa test.  Single-celled organisms are placed in an enclosed environment along with the precarious new product.  If the protozoa grow at a standard rate, the cosmetic product is safe.  On the other hand, if the organisms decrease in size or population, the new product is harmful to humans.  This test is simple, accurate, and time effective, as it only takes a span of 2-4 days to get results.  All equipment and materials amount to about $100 (Nava-Martinez, 85). This is relatively inexpensive compared to other alternative tests that require high-tech resources or samples of cells.  

The next method of testing involves human tissues.  These are live human tissues that have been donated from either a surgery, transplant, or a deceased body.  This method is not only harm-free, but is obviously more accurate than animal testing because the results on human tissues will always remain constant.  After numerous studies and trial-and-error accounts, structures with similar functions to human body systems have been produced.  “For example, skin and eye models made from reconstituted human skin and other tissues have been developed and are used to replace the cruel rabbit irritation tests” (“Alternatives to Animal Testing” par 10).  The laboratory which founded this development now sells human tissue testing kits for cosmetic and other companies to conveniently test their products. 

Computer models offer a controlled simulation of bodily organs and systems such as the heart, lungs, skin, kidneys, and digestive and musculoskeletal systems.  Although these are the only currently-developed simulations, they are all that is needed when it comes to cosmetic testing.  These virtual experiments are made possible through equations and gathered information from previous in-lab experiments.  No harm is inflicted on anyone in this process, nor are expensive, hard-to-get skin samples.  All that is needed for this cruelty-free alternative is the computer software and a tech that is well-educated on the software and in the field of biology. 

The last effective method of testing is volunteer studies on humans.  Volunteer studies are helpful when testing low-risk products that do not come in contact with the eyes.  The first step is simply monitoring and observing area of skin tested.  This can then be compared to a “normal patch of skin” [control group] of another human.  This method is mainly used to test simple factors of products such as levels of impact on sensitivity, and progression of new products.  Cosmetic testing plays in when it comes to micro dosing; the idea consisting of giving the volunteers very low doses of the tested drugs or product and observing how they affect certain systems and the human body as whole.  “These micro doses are radio-labeled, injected into human volunteers and measured (usually in blood samples) using a very sensitive measuring device called an accelerator mass spectrometer” (Alternatives to Animal Testing” par 13).  Micro dosing can be used to in a patch-style test that is attached to the skin and removed for examination after 24 hours. 

Find Out How Can Help You!
Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.
View our services

Animal testing would not be such a big issue if laws regarding the rightful treatment of animals were put into place.  After all, the same detrimental procedures that take place in a testing lab would be considered animal abuse [and be enough to land the abuser in jail] if completed in a household.  As of now, the only law protecting test animals is the Animal Welfare Act.  Even though this law is in favor of keeping the harm of animals to a minimum, it is merely a start in the right direction.  “Enacted in 1966, it regulates the care and use of animals in research, testing, teaching, exhibition, transport, and by dealers… However, the AWA provides only minimal protection for certain species while excluding others such as rats, mice, and birds bred for research” (“Animals in Science / Research” par 1).  Certain breeds, such as all cold-blooded species are not even acknowledged, much less protected by this measure.

If companies were recognized, and given incentives for avoiding cosmetic testing on animals, the high ratio of animal testing to cruelty free testing would likely flip.  Unlike other countries, companies in the United States have the right to choose how testing is completed.  In China, animal testing for cosmetics is required before products can even be released in their stores.  The Journal of Animal and Environmental Law, by Louis Brandeis School of law states that the simplest, most effective way to encourage alternative measures is to provide a monetary incentive to companies.  The notion includes “giving a Research Experimentation Tax Credit to companies to offset alternative testing expenses” (89).  Although cruelty-free testing would result in more work for cosmetic companies, they will take advantage of this tax credit if their goal is to maximize profits.

Cosmetic companies have the majority of control over this issue, but there are small steps every consumer can take to make a difference.  Products which are not tested on animals usually claim so on the labels.  More and more brands are starting to go cruelty free, but it is important to return those which are animal tested to the shelves.  It is unbelievably easy to find an alternative product which produces the same results as the product a shelf away.  Some cruelty free brands include: NYX, smash box, Milani, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Wet n Wild, and Lush (Fig. 3).  Remember that the less animal-tested products are purchased by consumers, the less testing animals will undergo in efforts of developing new products, and the more cosmetic companies are discouraged in the use of animal testing. 

Figure 3: “These Companies Don’t Test on Animals”

In conclusion, cosmetic animal testing is both inhumane and unnecessary.  Animal testing may be reasonable when it comes to new medical procedures which may save people’s lives, but when it comes to cosmetics, there is no need to put innocent animals through torture to make variations of products we already have.  In addition, there are many alternative tests that can be done in American labs that have been proven to be more accurate than tests conducted on animals.  It is not difficult for everyone to take part in resolving this issue; consumers simply need to stop encouraging animal-testing companies by simply not purchasing products that have been tested by animals.  Eventually, the government may support bans on cosmetic animal testing, but for now Americans need to vote with their power of consumerism and their money.

Works Cited

“About Animal Testing.” Humane Society International,

“Alternatives to Animal Testing.” Cruelty Free International,

“Animals in Science / Research.” Harm and Suffering, 2018,  

Animal Protection League of New Jersey. “The Truth Inside Your Cupboard.” :  ASK US WHY:

Boggan, Steve. “Millions of animals are subjected to painful tests every year.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 29 July 2011,

Nava-Martinez, Alexis. “Maybe She’s Born with It (or Maybe It Was Tested on Defenseless Animals): Proposed Strategies to Eliminate Animal Testing in the U.S. Cosmetics Industry through the Humane Cosmetics Act.” Journal of Animal & Environmental Law, no. Issue 2, 2017.

PETA. “Cruelty-Free Companies: These DO NOT Test on Animals.” PETA, 2015,

Zuazia, Rebeccah. “Cosmetic Animal Cruelty: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” FINE Magazine, Mar. 2017, .