Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration / Edition 1
Among the most influential writings in the history of Western political thought, John Locke's Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration remain vital to political debates today, more than three centuries after they were written. The complete texts appear in this volume, accompanied by interpretive essays by three prominent Locke scholars. In the Two Treatises Locke provides a theory of natural law and natural rights which he uses to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate civil governments, and to argue for the legitimacy of revolution against tyrannical governments. A Letter Concerning Toleration calls for an end to the oppression of people who hold a wide variety of unorthodox religious beliefs. With these and other writings, Locke's impact on the political theory and philosophy of the early Enlightenment was monumental, and he stood as a central figure invoked by the leaders of the American Revolution. Ian Shapiro's introduction places Locke's political writings in historical and biographical context. John Dunn explores the intellectual context in which Locke wrote the Two Treatises and A Letter Concerning Toleration, as well as the major interpretive controversies about their meaning. Ruth W. Grant offers a comprehensive discussion of Locke's views on women and the family, and Shapiro contributes an essay on the democratic elements of Locke's political theory. Taken together, the texts and essays in this volume offer invaluable insights into the history of ideas and the enduring influence of Locke's political thought.