On Property

by John Locke


1) Locke consults reason and revelation for the origins of private property. How might reason and revelation be at odds concerning property? And how does Locke reconcile what reason and revelation tell him?

2) What place does Locke give to the right to self-preservation in his explanation of property?

3) How for Locke does labor transform common property to private property?

4) What is property in one's person?

5) What according to Locke are the limits to private property?

6) How does Locke view human nature? Given the importance for Locke of the acquisition of property, does he think that human beings are covetous or quarrelsome? Does he suppose that human beings are naturally good?

7) What are the human virtues or attributes most prized by Locke? Why are they good?

8) Explain the genesis of money and of cities (states, kingdoms and political communities) according to Locke, and how scarcity and poverty, and differences in wealth are introduced.

9) How is it, according to Locke, that a "king of a large and fruitful territory [in the Americas] feeds, lodges, and is clad worse than a day laborer in England"?

10) How does money, and hence commerce introduce new desires (wants) that are not rooted in our natural state?

11) Why, according to Locke, do men consent to the introduction of inequality of wealth among them?


1) What sort of political society would emerge from Locke's understanding of nature, human labor and property?

2) What according to Locke is humanity's relation to nature? To what extent does nature provide for human beings? To what extent are human beings at home in nature?

Locke SelectionsGuide to unit 3back to unit 3