John Locke Explains Economic Inequality

844 Words Feb 4th, 2018 3 Pages
He attempts to justify the resulting economic inequality, but is unsuccessful, failing to address many of the problematic issues that arise from his claim.
Locke begins his explanation of private property by establishing how individuals come to possess property separate from the common resources of mankind. The defining feature of a piece of private property is labor, as the individual who performs the “labour that removes [the good] out of that common state nature left it in” makes the property his own (V. 30). According to Locke, the common resources of nature are open to all mankind, but a good becomes an individual’s own when a person performs some sort of labor on it. This stems from his idea that industry is an extension of self-ownership – people have natural rights of their own being, and extending these personal rights through work is how people come to own other things. Labor is what establishes ownership of a good, and as long as the amount of property taken is within a reasonable and modest amount, people are free to take what resources they must from the Earth. Although Locke argues in favor of the possession of private property, he emphasizes the point that it is “dishonest” for a man “to hoard up more than he could make use of” (V. 46). When people take property in excess, perishable…
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