On Paternal Power

The Second Treatise of Government

John Locke

Discussion Questions

1. Why does Locke say that if we consult reason or revelation, the concept of paternal power lacks legitimacy?

2. Why does Locke's criticism of paternal authority also undermine the legitimacy of monarchy?

3. According to Locke, in what ways are people equal and in what ways are they unequal?

4. What does Locke claim was the relationship between Adam and his children?

5. What is the purpose of law, according to Locke?

6. What does Locke believe to be the proper relationship between parents and their adult children?

7. What does Locke mean when he says that human freedom is grounded on human reason?

8. What are the limits to a father's authority over his children?

9. What is the difference between political and paternal power?

10. Why does Locke believe that in earlier times it was understandable that fathers would become kings?

11. Does Locke believe that kingship is legitimate in his own time?

Paper Topics
1. What are the similarities and differences between the family and government?

2. What do we learn from Locke's discussion of paternal authority about his understanding of the character of legitimate government?

3. What is the proper relationship between the individual and government according to Locke?

On Paternal Power Reading

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