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Stuart Mill And John Locke Conception Of Freedom

2373 words - 10 pages

John Locke (1632-1704) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) are two important thinkers of liberty in modern political thought. They have revolutionized the idea of human freedom at their time and have influenced many political thinkers afterwards. Although their important book on human freedom, John Locke’s The Second Treatise of Government (1689) and John Mill’s On Liberty (1859), are separated 170 years, some scholars thinks that they are belonging to the same conceptual tradition, English Liberalism. In this essay, I will elaborate John Locke and John Stuart Mill view on human freedom and try to find the difference between their concept of human freedom despite their similar ...view middle of the document...

He briefly summarizes this view by saying that:

“ any one should ever come to have a property in anything: I will not content myself to answer, that if it be difficult to make out property, upon a supposition that God gave the world to Adam, and his posterity in common, it is impossible that any man, but one universal monarch, should have any property upon a supposition, that God gave the world to Adam, and his heirs in succession, exclusive of all the rest of his posterity.”

If people other than the feudal lords were capable of owning the land they worked, the Aristocracy would lose it means of control. Locke stated that “whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby make it his property.” The peasant deserve the land of his labor. Working a field is what made the field owned, not some privilege from Scripture.
Mill lived from 1806 to 1873, the period of drastic social change and industrial revolution in England. Britain’s society mostly live in a town because of the industrialization. People are moving from the rural area to the big city. Social condition in Mill’s era was different from Locke’s era, because at Mill’s time the Aristocracy began to fall. At that time, England experienced big change because the traditional Aristocracy that own land and monarchy position were disturbed by wealthy merchants. Wealthy merchants begin to took their place in society and operate industrial factories. The power associated with ownership of land started to crumble as agrarian economies shifted more toward industrial economies.
Meanwhile, the low and middle class had to suffered. They have to work hard and endured physical labor in factories to earn their living. Living standards of worker at that time was worse than during the feudal period. Voth indicates that during the Industrial Revolution “[h]ousehold budget surveys and altenative indexes of living standards such as the human development index (HDI) strongly suggest that gains in living standards, broadly defined, were very small.”
The working conditions of the poor in England during the Industrial Revolution were nothing short of a new form of slavery. Like the peasants of Locke’s time, factory workers needed their job in order to live. But workers also needed their children to work in order to put food on the table and pay rent for the shoddy home they most likely shared with as many as four other families. While it is true that children had worked in the fields of their parents during feudal times, fieldwork was a far cry from factory work.
While governments had a hard time in overcoming this new society problems, there began to emerge a number of political ideas which many were convinced would solve the economic problems of the age. The root of these ideas can be traced to two school of thought, the Political Economist and the Philosophical Radicals....

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