Essay about Revolution: Locke vs Kant

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Who gives the best account of revolution, Locke or Kant? The writings of Locke on the subject of revolution in his second treatise of government were one of the founding and seminal texts on the “right” of a populace to resist the power of the state if a government was to overstep its defined power and become an unjust tyranny. Kant, however, took what could be labelled a surprising view for a republican and made the denial of the logical and legal coherence of this “right”, as well as the potential harm caused by the rejection of what Kant saw as an individual's moral duty in maintaining the rule of law by the preservation of a government. This essay aims to examine the arguments put forward by both thinkers, draw out their key…show more content…
Secondly, we must also define what we mean by “account” - is it merely the sum of their writings and theories on the subject of revolution, or is it their exposition of the internal human thought processes and motivations on an individual and collective level that ultimately lead to revolution? As the terms must be equally applicable to both arguments, we can probably safely assume it is the former (and, were we to take this otherwise, this would be a short essay indeed). However, it is interesting to note that Kant, who was a proponent of the use of both experience and reason to further understanding, should deny revolution on the grounds of reason alone. The founding tenets of Locke's political philosophy rest are the belief in inalienable rights and freedoms as individuals from birth (as he states in paragraph 61 of the second treatise, “We are born free as we are born rational” and it is from this rationality that stems our autonomy as individuals) and our duty as creations and property of god to preserve the lives of ourselves and others, as seen in the duty of all in the state of nature to uphold and enforce the law of nature. The same rationality that grants us our freedom in the state of nature, however, is the driving factor into our aggregation into societies and our creation of governments, as we recognise that social groupings under political authority established by mutual consent of all affected parties are the
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