On Lockean Political Philosophy
Sales Date: June 25, 2002
388 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: June 2002
- Published: June 2002
In this volume, prominent political theorist Michael Zuckert presents an important and pathbreaking set of meditations on the thought of John Locke. In more than a dozen provocative essays, many appearing in print for the first time, Zuckert explores the complexity of Locke’s engagement with his philosophical and theological predecessors, his profound influence on later liberal thinkers, and his amazing success in transforming the political understanding of the Anglo-American world. At the same time, he also demonstrates Locke’s continuing relevance in current debates involving such prominent thinkers as Rawls and MacIntyre.
Zuckert’s careful reconsideration of Locke’s role as “launcher” of liberalism involves a sustained engagement with the hermeneutical issues surrounding Locke, an innovator who faced special rhetorical needs in addressing his contemporaries and the future. It also involves highlighting the novelty of Locke’s position by examining his stance toward the philosophical and religious traditions in place when he wrote.
Zuckert argues that neither of the dominant ways of understanding Locke’s relations to his predecessors and contemporaries is adequate; he is not well seen as a follower of any orthodoxy nor of any anti-orthodoxy of his day, either philosophical or theological. He found a path to innovation that was philosophically radical but which was also able to connect with prevailing and accepted traditions. That allowed him to exercise a practical influence in history rarely, if ever, matched by any other philosopher.
Zuckert illustrates that influence by showing how William Blackstone used Lockean philosophy to reshape the common law and how the Americans of the eighteenth century used Lockean philosophy to reshape Whig political thought. Zuckert argues that Locke’s philosophy has continuing philosophic and political force, a proposition he demonstrates by arguing that Locke presents a form of political philosophy superior to that of the liberal theorists of our day and that he has solid rejoinders to contemporary critics of liberalism.
"Arguably one of the most subtle, intelligent, and compelling accounts of Locke’s political philosophy and its bearing o the American Founding."—American Political Science Review
"This collection is not only a set of important essays on Locke, but also a major contribution to our understanding of how Locke’s thought informs American political thought, both at the founding and as a critical voice in key contemporary debates in political theory. This now constitutes the most learned and philosophically profound presentation of Lockean thought that has appeared in the past generation."—Thomas L. Pangle, author of The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke
Part One. Lockean Hermeneutics
1. Problem Perspectives on Locke
2. Appropriation and Understanding in the History of Political Philosophy: On Quentin Skinner’s Method
3. Of Wary Physicians and Weary Readers: The Debates on Locke’s Way of Writing
4. Fools and Knaves: Reflections on Locke’s Theory of Philosophic Discourse
Part Two. Locke and the Tradition
5. An Introduction to Locke’s First Treatise: Locke and the Old Testament
6. Locke and the Problem of Civil Religion: Locke on Christianity
7. Do Natural Rights Derive from Natural Law: Aquinas, Hobbes, and Locke on Natural Rights
Part Three. Forging the Lockean Amalgam
8. Locke in America: The Philosophy of the Declaration of Independence
9. Social Compact, Common Law and American Amalgam: The Contribution of William Blackstone
10. Natural Rights in the American Revolution: The American Amalgam
Part Four: Locke in Late Modernity
11. Hobbes, Locke and the Problem of the Rule of Law
12. Big Government and Rights: Locke, Rawls, and Liberalism
13. On the Contemporary Critique of Rights-Talk: A MacIntyrade