John Locke: Second Treatise on Civil Government


John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government, part of the larger work Two Treatises of Government, which Locke published anonymously in 1690, is an important text in the history of theories of natural law and the social contract and thus stands as a key document in the history of Western political thought. In fact, the Second Treatise on Civil Government provided an intellectual foundation for the future rejection of absolute monarchies—a process that began in Western culture in the eighteenth century, most notably with the French and American revolutions, and continued into the nineteenth century.

John Locke was one of the most influential philosophers and political theorists of seventeenth-century England. In the first of his Two Treatises of Government, Locke refuted the views that had been published by another political theorist, Robert Filmer, who argued that monarchs had a divine right to rule. The second, and more famous, treatise was identified on the volume’s...

Image for: John Locke: Second Treatise on Civil Government

John Locke (Library of Congress)

View Full Size