Civilization Week 6

Question 1: What was the Glorious Revolution? Why is it significant in English history?

The Glorious Revolution refers to the overthrowing of King James II, done by his son in law William of Orange. James hadn’t been a popular king. He had been Catholic, and had showed absolutist behavior; ignoring and downright dissolving parliament. His son in law William, and Williams wife/James’s daughter Mary had been watching England and observing how little the people enjoyed James’s rulership. So when a few English noblemen came to William begging him to overthrow James, William happily took the opportunity. He gathered up his army and made his way down to dear old dads castle. James had initially planned to fight tooth and nail to preserve his title, but he decided to the contrary when many of his own men abandoned their posts and took up ranks within Williams army.  James decided to flee to France, so William and Mary took up their earned ranks within the castle. William and Mary also agreed to a Bill of Rights, signing over much of their power to parliament. This document also made precautions against Catholics coming into power.

But there were reasons these two weren’t popular with all of their subjects. For example the Irish and Scottish utterly refused to accept their new rulers, and therefor had to be forced through bloodshed. William coming to power also disrupted the slave trade, causing slavery to become more widespread across English territory.


Question 2: On what grounds does Locke believe people can establish a claim to property ownership over a previously unowned good?

Locke believed that everyone is born with a few basic natural rights. One of these rights is the right to ownership over ones self. We have the power to do as we will, and create and destroy what we will.

Locke explained that if land is previously unowned, if someone were to create something productive on that land they have the right to declare ownership. For example, if someone were to build a house or plant an orchard on a piece of land they have the right to claim that land. How Locke explained it is someone must “mix their labors” with the land. By mixing their labor, and accordingly making that land better, that person will gain the right to ownership over that now better land.


Question 3: Why does Locke believe absolute monarchy fails to resolve the “inconveniences” of the state of nature?

Locke lists three “inconveniences” that present themselves in the state of nature. The first is there is no defined system of laws for people to obey. So anyone would be able to harm you or steal from you without having a higher authority to deal out punishment. So this means vigilante justice will be the only method of reparation. This leads to the second inconvenience, the community has to maintain civility without help from any appointed authority. So say if someone did rob you, instead of calling the cops you would have to hunt them down yourself. This leads to many dilemmas. Say the robber is bigger or stronger than you, and you run the risk of getting hurt or killed hunting them down. This can lead to the biggest strongest bullies in a community maintaining the most control. The third of Locke’s inconveniences is that we are all impartially biased towards ourselves. If we have a dispute, we want our side winning the dispute. Without a nonbiased third party there to judge fairly, the issue can spiral out of control and end in more bloodshed.

So according to Locke, a government exists to deal with these three inconveniences in a far more fair and efficient way than we can do alone. But he says this system can not work in an absolutist monarchy. For example, if you have a dispute with the absolutist monarch themselves, than you have no unbiased third party to accurately judge. So according to Locke a government consisting of many smart unbiased people, who can look at issues from every angle and determine the best compromise for the people, is the best way to maintain peace and cooperation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s