John Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Leibniz: New Essays on Human Understanding

John Locke: Two Treatises of Government

Embarquement_de_Guillaume_d'Orange_pour_l'Angleterre_en_1688The Two Treatises of Government by John Locke are seminal works in the history of the liberal tradition, originally published in the aftermath of England's Whig revolution of 1688, with which Locke was intimately involved, though written some years earlier.

The First Treatise attacks the doctrine of the divine right of kings, defended by Anglican theologians such as Sir Robert Filmer, an important bulwark of the legitimacy of the Stuart monarchs.

The Second Treatise offers Locke's positive political theory, putting forward a social contract argument, which unlike that of Hobbes, provides a basis for limited representative government. If this Locke's key significance for his admirers, his critics point to his theory of property, which allows for slavery, and has been interpreted as allowing greater to rights to those who exploit natural resources more fully, potentially favouring European settlers in the Americas over natives.

Two Treatises of Government at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts Second Treatise of Civil Government. HTML and TXT formats.

Early Modern Texts: Second Treatise on Government (1689), adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: Second Treatise of Government. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Two Treatises of Government, with Patriarcha by Robert Filmer, edited by Thomas I. Cook. Hafner Library of Classics. Multiple formats.

Liberty Fund: Two Treatises of Government, edited by Thomas Hollis. Multiple formats. See also enhanced edition. The Second Treatise of Government. HTML format.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Second Treatise of Civil Government. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Two Treatises of Government. HTML and other formats.

Audio Resources

Librivox: Two Treatises of Civil Government - Public domain audiobook.

Philosophy - The Classics: Locke - 2nd Treatise. Podcast by Nigel Warburton.

Other Resources

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: John Locke (1632-1704) - John Locke: Political Philosophy.

PhilPapers: Locke - Two Treatise of Government - bibliography with open access option.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: John Locke - Locke's Political Philosophy.

Wikipedia: John Locke - Two Treatises of Government

Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Sir Robert Filmer: Patriarcha - A defence of the divine right of kings. Locke's key polemic target in the first treatise.

Richard Hooker: Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Politie.

Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan - Although it led to more authoritarian conclusions, Hobbes' social contract theory was an important influence on Locke's.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)