John Locke Against Natural Hierarchy

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In chapters VI and VII of his 2d Treatise on Government: “Of Civil Government” makes a remarkable argument against natural hierarchy, whether patriarchy, the supposed "divine right of kings" or any other natural hierarchy—other than the voluntary deference people are often inspired to make to someone imbued with justice and wisdom. Here are the links to the blog posts I wrote on these chapters:

Chapter VI: Of Paternal Power

Chapter VII: Of Political or Civil Society

Let me distill what I learned from these two chapters into the following thought. In "The Social Contract According to John Locke" I praise Michael Huemer's work, saying "I love the idea that what is wrong for an individual in the state of nature cannot suddenly become OK just because the government is doing it." Here, I want to point to the converse implication of this kind of reasoning: anything that is legitimate for a government to do is also legitimate for those not in the government to do, if (and it is a big if) they can do a better and more just job than the conventionally accepted government. The American Revolutionaries are exactly such a group of individuals who set out to do a better job than the government headed by King George III in the administration of the American colonies. One of the reasons they could hope to to a careful job of governing that would be better than the government headed by King George III is that they used the machinery of colonial government wherever that could be tweaked to make it consistent with independence. They weren't trying to start from scratch in inventing the machinery of government. 

Links to posts on the earlier chapters of John Locke's 2d Treatise can be found here:

Posts on Chapters I-III:  John Locke's State of Nature and State of War 

Posts on Chapter IV-V: On the Achilles Heel of John Locke's Second Treatise: Slavery and Land Ownership