Locke’s philosophy on the state of war represents a particularly interesting topic due to the presence of ideas that require a substantial amount of nuance and the transfer of these ideas into the context of actual war settings. Namely, Locke’s idea of an aggressor’s right to instigate a war as the right to self-defense could be seen as ironic due to its potential to disrupt the relationships within a state when taken to its extreme. Indeed, if considering the right of an aggressor to response with violence, one will be unable to keep the political relationships under control due to the threat of a subjective interpretation of a specific change as the sign of aggression and, therefore, an immediate development of military actions (Locke). Therefore, it seems that Locke’s stance applies to the situations in which a country is forced to introduce a military intervention as the means of safeguarding its integrity and its citizens.
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Furthermore, the idea of a war being caused by the absence of a superior authority could be seen as a significant simplification. While the specified assumption does capture the essence of Locke’s argument, an important nuance must be introduced. Particularly, the role of the superior authority as the source of justice and wisdom as opposed to authoritarian rule must be clarified. Specifically, Locke’s perception of a superior authority as the factor in containing war-related intentions implies the presence of the organized government that ensures the provision of equal rights and freedoms to all citizens (Locke). Therefore, the superior force in question needs to be seen as the guiding power rather than the authoritarian one.
Tyranny is another Lockean concept worth paying closer attention to as a nuanced and intricate notion. The proposed interpretation of Locke’s perception of tyranny through the lens of the corruption of legal system seems to be the most accurate, even though a multifaceted perspective could also apply in this case. Specifically, considering tyranny as the absence of legal standards that could ensure equality and unbiased judgment is a universal Lockean idea of tyranny represents the reality of tyranny quite accurately. Since with the introduction of the absolute rule, regulations stop serving the needs of citizens to maintain impartiality and equality, the legal system is the first institution to be affected by authoritarianism. However, the social implications of the authoritarian rule, particularly, the presence of fear and the development of prejudices and a rigid hierarchy placing the needs of the marginalized at the very bottom of the list should be mentioned (Locke). Finally, the social implications of the opposition being effectively eliminated, and the idea of an alternative thought system being nonexistent, should be rendered as one of the key components of authoritarianism.
Furthermore, the fact that the authoritarian rule affect educated people first and most powerfully might seem as a slight misrepresentation of the argument since Locke emphasizes the drastic effects of tyranny on all members of society, their social class notwithstanding (Locke). However, given that tyranny according to Locke suppresses independent thought, the need to support the educated population as its most likely target appears to be apparent. Overall, Locke’s perception of tyranny is linked to his idea of morality, which ties the notion of authoritarianism to ethical concern. Therefore, outlining the devastating effect of tyranny on the human mind, Locke focuses extensively on the education-related implications of tyranny.
Locke, John. “Second Treatise of Government.” Project Gutenberg, 2010.