John Locke's Argument for Limited Government

In Chapters VIII-XI of his 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government, John Locke makes his central argument for limited government. In Chapters VIII and IX, he argues that governments arise out of a situation with no government, and so derive their powers from the intentions of those in that initial situation of no government. In Chapters X and XI, he lays out his views on the most basic rules for appropriate government constitutions.

Below, I give links to all of my posts on these chapters, as well as links at the bottom to the aggregator posts for earlier chapters. Of the posts on Chapters VIII-XI, the most important five are these:

  1. We Are All Born Free

  2. Defense against the Black Hats is the Origin of the State

  3. The Public Good

  4. The Only Legitimate Power of Governments is to Articulate the Law of Nature

  5. No One is Above the Law, which Must Be Established and Promulgated and Designed for the Good of the People; Taxes and Governmental Succession Require Approval of Elected Representatives

Here are all the posts on Chapters VIII-XI:

Chapter VIII: Of the Beginning of Political Societies

Chapter IX: Of the Ends of Political Society and Government

Chapter X: Of the Forms of a Commonwealth

Chapter XI: Of the Extent of the Legislative Power

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

Posts on Chapters VI-VII : John Locke Against Natural Hierarchy

Links to posts on later chapters so far:

Chapter XII: Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative Power of the Commonwealth

Chapter XIII: Of the Subordination of the Powers of the Commonwealth

Chapter XIV: Of Prerogative

Chapter XV: Of Paternal, Political, and Despotical Power, considered together

Chapter XVI: Of Conquest

Chapter XVII: Of Usurpation

Chapter XVIII: Of Tyranny

Chapter XIX: Of the Dissolution of Government