Friends, natives, and republicans: three essays on John Locke and the natural law
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In the broadest sense, the three essays that form this dissertation address certain normative features in John Locke’s philosophy. “On Revolution: Arendt, Locke, and Republican Revisionism” deals with Hannah Arendt’s early republican revisionism that removes Locke’s influence from the American revolutionary period. Her (mistaken) belief is that Locke’s political philosophy encourages social disengagement and political apathy. In “One Body of People: Locke on Amerindians, Protestant Evangelism, and the Colonization of North America” I take seriously Locke’s religious devotion and reassess his colonial philosophy through an “evangelical” lens. It turns out his colonial thought was not motivated by “punishment” but by a perceived collective good. In “Friends in the State of Nature: John Locke and the Formation of Security Communities,” I explore the routinely overlooked fact that Locke characterizes humans as highly sociable and prone to friendship. To be sure, friendship and trust not only exist in the state of nature, they are what precipitate the contractual movement into civil society. This is particularly relevant given the fact that the realist tradition within International Relations almost reflexively characterizes the relationship between states as one of ruthless self interest. The way Locke speaks about the formation of political communities is highly reminiscent of “security communities,” a term popularized by Karl Deustch in the late 1950s, which describes groups of people who have integrated to such an extent that conflict can be managed in nonviolent ways. Locke characterizes the international community both in terms of moral communities (where different regions of the world share different values), and also in terms of economic communities of varying degrees of interdependence.