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John Locke and AmericaThe Defence of English Colonialism$
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Barbara Arneil

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198279679

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198279679.001.0001

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(p.201) 8 Conclusion
John Locke and America

Barbara Arneil

Oxford University Press

The world known as America is, in the Two Treatises of Government, the same world as that inhabited by natural man. John Locke, it is argued, has referred to America only to fulfil an empirical need for evidence of ‘natural man’, and natural man, in turn, is nothing more to Locke than a logical abstraction, useful for the elucidation of one's fundamental liberties and obligations under civil law. Locke has long been recognised as a philosopher who writes, in part, for political reasons. But while many commentators have recognised the importance of the Earl of Shaftesbury's domestic politics to Locke's developing political theory, few have even considered the impact of foreign politics, and, most particularly, the colonisation of America, on these same ideas. Thus, traditional scholarship has concluded that Locke's state of nature is singularly devoid of any historical content such as might be provided by life in the Americas.

Keywords:   John Locke, England, America, Two Treatises of Government, natural man, colonisation, Amerindians, state of nature

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