A Lockean Account of State Justification, Legitimacy, and Optimality

Jones, Clinton W., Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
Simmons, John, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
Cargile, James, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia

I show that Locke's Second Treatise o f Government presents a complex and consistent political theory that is relevant to contemporary and future issues. I also propose a new Lockean theory, the Lockean Natural Property Approach, in which ownership of land is the basis from which one chooses to consent to citizenship in particular states. In the first chapter I argue that Locke distinguishes at least three evaluative properties any given state may possess: justified, legitimate, and optimal. The second chapter focuses on the implications of this view concerning the range of interpretations of Locke's work in this area. The third chapter considers objections to this view, especially those that arise due to the problems associated with the permissibility of non-democratic states. The solution to those objections is my Lockean Natural Property Approach. Under this approach, instead of state jurisdiction being prior 2 to, and determining, private property ownership, the latter is prior to and determines the former. One does not emigrate by physically exiting the territory of a state's jurisdiction, but rather simply takes her land (and herself) out of that state's jurisdiction by ending her relationship with it. Individuals join - or leave - a state in much the same way they may join any other organization. This solves the problem of either remaining in a state one doesn't prefer, or having to leave the only culture he's ever known, and retains a fundamental premise of Locke's theory: consent of the governed is the only permissible way that a state gains rights over its citizens. In the last chapter, I show the relevance of my theory to contemporary issues and beyond.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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