Locke and Publius: Comparing Their Views on Civil Government
1500 Words6 Pages
Throughout history there have been significant debates, theories and agendas set forward as to what the best form of government is. Many of those individuals and groups who have written on the topic have their critics because they offer points that are highly controversial in theory and problematic when put into practice. John Locke and Publius, which is the collective name for Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, both published essays with regards to the nature of government and largely championed the notion of democracy. With Locke writing on constitutional government in England and Publius writing on and essentially establishing governmental mechanisms in the United States, both parties inspired the rise of liberalism and…show more content…
However, he repeatedly refers to humans as “rational creatures” (Locke, 57), thus implying that they have the ability to think logically and make sensible and reasonable decisions despite the fact that individuals may be prone to ignorance or be biased by their own interests (Locke, 57). Publius, on the other hand, considered government to be indicative of human nature in that it was necessary because men were “no angels” and were malleable to the wishes of others (Publius, 337). This contrasts with the assertions of Locke as it does not imply that man is selfish but does acknowledge their ability for wrongdoing in the absence of governance. In fact, the implication is that human nature is somewhat prone to acts of violence as a result of passion and conviction (Publius, 16), which is detrimental to the interests of the whole. As far as rationality goes, their argument is closer to that of Locke in that they believe a human is capable of rational judgement but, again, often allows emotion and self interest to get in the way (Publius, 205). In this respect they agree that human nature cannot be trusted and so champion strong government that excludes self interest and arbitrary decisions based on emotion.
Another aspect that the works of Publius and Locke have in common is the notion of