Social Inequality In John Locke And Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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The questions of the whether social inequality is justified and the extent of government to address said inequality are some of the foundations upon which societies and economies are built. Two key philosophers on this issue – John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau – differ on this subject. In Two Treatises on Government, Locke holds that individuals have a right to property derived from their labor, citizens consent to the existence of inequality in society, and governments are instituted among men to protect said property. In contrast, Rousseau writes in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and The Social Contract that inequality should be strictly limited and that governments have a duty to act in the best interest of its citizens by maintaining…show more content…
The state of nature is the state in which man first existed. The right to property consists of whether individuals have a defensible right to a certain form of property, whether it be wealth, objects, or land. Social inequality consists of inequality between citizens in political society resulting from differences in property. All references to inequality herein are to social inequality, not to any other type. Finally, for the purpose of brevity, all references to governments are references to governments formed by the consent of the governed unless separately denoted. Before commenting on Locke and Rousseau’s policies, one must examine their basis for property, inequality, and…show more content…
He explains that only when the legislature does not act in the best interest of its citizens or if they “endeavour to invade the property of the subject,” do the citizens have grounds for rebellion (). Following from the previous paragraph, when governments attempt to address inequality without the expressed consent of the governed, they may be dissolved. Focusing so singularly on the protection of property and therefore the protection of inequality will directly contrast with
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