John Locke — Government as a Service

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Douglas Giles, PhD
12 min readMar 20, 2023

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Jon Locke — Philosopher and Policy Wonk

Locke’s political philosophy has had a lasting effect on our society.

Government at the consent of the governed. It is a principle we assume today and demand. It was not always so. For centuries in the medieval and early modern era the dominant European philosophy of government was the “divine right of kings” — the idea dating back to Augustine that the monarch held a sacred right to be monarch and was above the law because the monarch was the law. It was the principle held by King Charles I of England. A generation after Hobbes’s Leviathan, England didn’t have the absolute sovereign Hobbes had prescribed as the antidote to political chaos. King Charles II had, as Hobbes had hoped, ascended to the English throne in 1660, but it didn’t end the strife over who should rule England. There was another removal of a monarch, James II, and another civil war, again over the balance of power in the nation-state between the nobles and the monarch.

John Locke was an ideas person, a kind of a 1600s think tank fellow who advised politicians and governmental officials. He himself was not a politician or governmental official, but he did work for Lord Ashley, the first Earl of Shaftesbury. His boss was very involved in government and politics, late in life, as a staunch opponent of the…

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Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life. https://linktr.ee/dgilesphd