Essay on John Locke on Tacit and Unintended Consent

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In his Second Treatise on Law and Government, John Locke outlines clear and coherent standards for what constitutes a legitimate government and what persons one such government would have authority over. Both are determined by citizens' acts of consenting to relinquish to the government part of their natural authority over their own conduct. Unfortunately, the situation becomes much less clear once we consider how his standards would apply to the political situation existing in the real world today. If we continue to subscribe to Locke's account without altering its standards, we would see a precipitous drop in the number of people whose interests existing governments are responsible for serving. In this paper I will show that with…show more content…
Someone merely travelling on a public road through a country will have less contact with the civil society of that area and so fewer laws of that society will have application to her behavior. Still, those laws that do cover what activities she carries out have binding force on her (II, 120-121). These people incur the obligation to submit to local authority because that authority is protecting them, perhaps by preventing the citizens of the area from acting in ways that would harm other people including the outsider. For the outsider to be free of those restraints and take advantage of the area's citizens would be unjust; therefore she is obligated to comply with the legal restraints observed by citizens the area. In neither of these cases would the person in question be considered a member of the civil society whose laws she is obeying unless she expressly consented to join that society in addition to her tacit consent to follow its laws. An immediate criticism of Locke's account thus far is that in practice, hardly anyone expressly gives consent to join any civil society. Even in most real-world cases where a person does announce submission to a particular government, the declaration would not meet Locke's conditions of consent that would give legitimacy to the rule of government over that

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