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JOHN LOCKE:

ETHICS
Prepared by:
Rhea D. Sanchez

John Locke
(1632-1704)
Born on August 29, 1632
Wrington,
Somerset,
England
Went
to
Westminster
School and then Christ
Church,
University
of
Oxford
Became
a
highly
influential
philosopher,
writing about such topics
as political philosophy,
epistemology
and
education.
Lockes writing helped

MAJOR WRITINGS
Essay
Concerning
Understanding (1689)

Human

Is the undeniable starting point for the study


of empiricism in the early modern period
He states that one of the most important
aspects of improving our knowledge is to
recognize the kinds of things that we can
truly know.

Two Treatises of Government (1693)


Lockes best-known political text
It criticizes the political system according to
which kings rule by divine right (First
Treatise) and lays the foundation for modern
liberalism (Second Treatise)

MAJOR WRITINGS
Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)
Argues that much civil unrest is borne of the state
trying to prevent the practice of different religions
In short, it is an argument for the separation of
church and state.
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Very influential text in early modern Europe that
outlines the best way to rear children.
It suggests that the virtue of a person is directly
related to the habits of body and the habits of
mind instilled in them by their educators.

ETHICS
The seeking out those
Rules, and Measures of
humane Actions, which
lead to Happiness, and the
Means to practice them
(Essay, IV.xxi.3)

ELEMENTS IN THE LANDSCAPE


OF LOCKES ETHICS
Happiness or the highest good as
the end of human action
The rules that govern human
action
The powers that command human
action
The ways and means by which the
rules are practiced

THE GOOD
A) Pleasure and pain
B) Happiness

PLEASURE AND PAIN


True happiness, is associated with the
good, which in turn is associated with
pleasure.
Pleasure is taken by Locke to be the
sole motive for human action.
Essay endorsed hedonism.
Pleasure and pain are joined to almost
all of our ideas both of sensation and
reflection (Essay, II.vii.2)

Sensation and Reflection


- According to this theory, there is no
such thing as innate ideas or ideas that
are inborn in the human mind. All ideas
come to us by experience
- Sensation as the great source of
all our ideas, and the other source of
ideas, reflection or internal sense,
is the dependent on the minds
reflecting on its own operations, in
particular the satisfaction or
uneasiness arising from any
thought (Essay, II.i.4)

HAPPINESS
The pursuit of true happiness,
according to Locke, is equated
with the highest perfection
of intellectual nature (Essay,
II.xxi.51)
To do this, he says that we need
to try to match our desire to
the true intrinsic good that
is really within things.

THE LAW OF NATURE


A) Existence
B)Content
C)Authority
D)Reconciling the law of with
happiness

EXISTENCE
The first essay in the series treats
the questions of whether there is a
rule of morals, or law of
nature given to us
Yes (Law, Essay 1, page 109;
hereafter: Law I:109).
This law is to be understood as
moral good or virtue

CONTENT
Two ways to determine
the content of the law of
nature: by the light of
nature and by sense
experience.

What exactly, is the light of


nature?

Locke describing it, that


it is something acquired
or experienced by sense
experience or by reason.

AUTHORITY
Locke begins this discussion by
reiterating that the law of nature is the
care and preservation of oneself
Given this law, he states that virtue
should not be understood as a duty but
rather the convenience of human
beings.
He also adds, the observance of this
law is not so much an obligation but
rather a privilege and an advantage,
to which we are led by expediency
(Law, VI: 181)

RECONCILING THE LAW


WITH HAPPINESS
The main lines of Lockes natural law
theory are as follows:
Discoverable by the combined work
of reason and sense experience
Binding on human beings in virtue of
being decreed by God

POWER, FREEDOM AND


SUSPENDING DESIRE
A) Passive and Active Powers
B)The Will
C)Freedom
D)Judgment

PASSIVE AND
ACTIVE
POWERS
Locke states that we come to have
the idea of power by observing
the fact that things change over time.
The idea of power always includes
some kind of relation to action or
change.
The passive side of power entails
the ability to be changed, and the
active side of power entails the ability
to make change.

whatever Change is
observed, the Mind must
collect a Power
somewhere, able to make
that Change (Essay,
II.xxi.4)

THE WILL
The power to stop, start,
or continue an action of
the mind or of the body is
what Locke calls the will.

FREEDOM

Lockes view, both the will and freedom are


powers of agents, and it is a mistake to
think that one power (the will) can have as
a property a second power (freedom) (Essay
II.xxi.20)
He defines freedom in the following way:
The Idea of Liberty, is the Idea of a
Power in any Agent to do or forbear any
particular Action, according to the
determination or thought of the mind,
whereby either of them is preferred to the
other; where either of them is not in the
Power of the Agent to be produced by
him according to his Volition here he is not a
Liberty, that Agent is under Necessity.
(Essay, II.xxi.8)

JUDGMENT
How Men come often to
prefer the worse to the better;
and to chase that, which, by
their own Confession, has
made them miserable
(Essay, II.xxi.56)

Locke gives two answers:


(1) Bad luck can account for people not
pursuing their true happiness.
(2) Other uneasinesss arise from our
desire of absent good; which desires
always bear proportion to, and depend
on the judgment we make, and the
relish we have of any absent good; in
both which we are apt to be variously
misled, and that by our own fault
(Essay, II.xxi.57)

LIVING THE
MORAL LIFE

Locke states that we must recognize


the difference between natural
wants and wants of fancy.
Locke states that parents and
teachers must ensure that children
develop the habit of resisting any
kind of created fancy, thus keeping
the mind free from desires for things
that do not lead to true happiness
(Education, 107)

If parents and teachers are


successful
in
blocking
the
development of wants of fancy,
Locke thinks that the children who
benefit from this success will
become adults who will be
allowed
greater
liberty
because they will be more closely
connected to the dictates of
reason and not the dictates of
passion (Education, 108).

REFERENCE
http://www.iep.utm.edu/locke-et/

END

JOHN LOCKE:
ETHICS
Prepared by:
Rhea D. Sanchez