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John Locke (1632–1704) is among the most influential politicalphilosophers of the modern period. In the Two Treatises ofGovernment, he defended the claim that men are by nature free andequal against claims that God had made all people naturally subject toa monarch. He argued that people have rights, such as the right tolife, liberty, and property, that have a foundation independent of thelaws of any particular society. Locke used the claim that men arenaturally free and equal as part of the justification forunderstanding legitimate political government as the result of asocial contract where people in the state of nature conditionallytransfer some of their rights to the government in order to betterensure the stable, comfortable enjoyment of their lives, liberty, andproperty. Since governments exist by the consent of the people inorder to protect the rights of the people and promote the public good,governments that fail to do so can be resisted and replaced with newgovernments. Locke is thus also important for his defense of the rightof revolution. Locke also defends the principle of majority rule andthe separation of legislative and executive powers. In the LetterConcerning Toleration, Locke denied that coercion should be usedto bring people to (what the ruler believes is) the true religion andalso denied that churches should have any coercive power over theirmembers. Locke elaborated on these themes in his later politicalwritings, such as the Second Letter on Toleration andThird Letter on Toleration.

Government Works - summary of the three branches of government followed by links to authoritative external sites ;
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Title page - Carleton County Historical Society

Other commentators focus on the third argument, that the magistratemight be wrong. Here the question is whether Locke's argument isquestion begging or not. The two most promising lines of argument arethe following. Wootton argues that there are very good reasons, fromthe standpoint of a given individual, for thinking that governmentswill be wrong about which religion is true. Governments are motivatedby the quest for power, not truth, and are unlikely to be good guidesin religious matters. Since there are so many different religions heldby rulers, if only one is true then likely my own ruler's views arenot true. Wootton thus takes Locke to be showing that it isirrational, from the perspective of the individual, to consent togovernment promotion of religion. A different interpretation of thethird argument is presented by Tuckness. He argues that the likelihoodthat the magistrate may be wrong generates a principle of tolerationbased on what is rational from the perspective of a legislator, notthe perspective of an individual citizen. Drawing on Locke's laterwritings on toleration, he argues that Locke's theory of natural lawassumes that God, as author of natural law, takes into account thefallibility of those magistrates who will carry out the commands ofnatural law. If “use force to promote the true religion”were a command of natural law addressed to all magistrates, it wouldnot promote the true religion in practice because so many magistrateswrongly believe that their religion is the true one. Tuckness claimsthat in Locke's later writings on toleration he moved away fromarguments based on what it is instrumentally rational for anindividual to consent to. Instead, he emphasized testing proposedprinciples based on whether they would still fulfill their goal ifuniversally applied by fallible human beings.

Decisions of this nature should be based upon and measured against certain basic principles regarding the proper role of government
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In addition to these and similar religious arguments, Locke givesthree reasons that are more philosophical in nature for barringgovernments from using force to encourage people to adopt religiousbeliefs (Works 6:10–12). First, he argues that the careof men's souls has not been committed to the magistrate by either Godor the consent of men. This argument resonates with the structure ofargument used so often in the Two Treatises to establish thenatural freedom and equality of mankind. There is no command in theBible telling magistrates to bring people to the true faith and peoplecould not consent to such a goal for government because it is notpossible for people, at will, to believe what the magistrate tellsthem to believe. Their beliefs are a function of what they think istrue, not what they will. Locke's second argument is that since thepower of the government is only force, while true religion consists ofgenuine inward persuasion of the mind, force is incapable of bringingpeople to the true religion. Locke's third argument is that even ifthe magistrate could change people's minds, a situation where everyoneaccepted the magistrate's religion would not bring more people to thetrue religion. Many of the magistrates of the world believe religionsthat are false.

Complementarianism or Patriarchy
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