1st Edition

Liberty, Governance and Resistance Competing Discourses in John Locke’s Political Philosophy

By John William Tate Copyright 2024
    312 Pages
    by Routledge

    John Locke is widely perceived as a foundational figure within the liberal tradition. This book investigates the competing purposes that informed Locke’s political philosophy, not all of which resulted in outcomes consistent with what we today understand as "liberal" ideals.

    Locke himself was unaware that he belonged to a "liberal" tradition. Traditions only acquire meaning in retrospect. But many have perceived the development of Locke’s political philosophy as involving a smooth evolution from "authoritarian" origins to "liberal" conclusions, beginning with Locke’s Two Tracts on Government (1660-62) and culminating in his later political works, the Two Treatises of Government (1689) and A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). This book advances an interpretation of this development which reveals how, by the time of his mature political writings, Locke sought to advance three competing imperatives within his political philosophy, only two of which were consistent with ideals of individual liberty. The other imperative sustained purposes much more aligned with the "authoritarianism" with which Locke’s political philosophy began. The result is a much more complex and variegated understanding of Locke’s political philosophy, focusing on its competing purposes.

    Liberty, Governance and Resistance will be of interest to researchers studying Locke, liberalism, and the history of ideas.

    Introduction  1. Two Tracts on Government  2. An Essay Concerning Toleration  3. Two Treatises of Government  4. Locke, Liberty and Consent  6. Upheaval and Disorder  7. "Busie Heads" and "Turbulent Spirits"  8. The Locke Literature  Conclusion


    John Tate is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Newcastle, Australia. His primary research interest is in the area of political philosophy and history of political thought. In particular, he is interested in issues of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and toleration. He has published in these areas in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Political Theory, Political Studies, European Journal of Political Theory, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Journal of Religion, Telos, Journal of European Studies, Australian Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Australian Studies. He is also engaged in an extended study of the political thought of the late seventeenth century English philosopher, John Locke. Locke is an important foundational source, within the liberal tradition, for issues such as freedom of religion and toleration. John Tate has published two monographs on John Locke with Routledge. These are Liberty, Toleration and Equality: John Locke, Jonas Proast and the Letters Concerning Toleration (2016) and Liberty, Governance and Resistance: Competing Discourses in John Locke’s Political Philosophy (2023).