Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2-2011

Abstract

John Locke's theory of property has been the subject of sustained contention between two major perspectives: a socioeconomic perspective, which conceives Locke's thought as an expression of the rising bourgeois sensibility and a defense of the nascent capitalist relations, and a theological perspective, which prioritizes his moral worldview grounded in the Christian natural law tradition. This essay argues that a closer analysis of Locke's theory of money in the Second Treatise can provide an alternative to this binary. It maintains that the notion of money comprises a conceptual area of indeterminacy in which the theological universals of the natural law and the historical fact of capital accumulation shade into each other. More specifically, the ambiguity of the status of money enables Locke to navigate an antinomy within the natural law such that he establishes a relation of necessity between the divine telos and accumulative practices.

Keywords

John Locke, property, capitalism, economics, liberalism, money, natural law, theology, morality

Discipline

Political Science

Research Areas

Political Science

Publication

Review of Politics

Volume

73

Issue

1

First Page

29

Last Page

54

ISSN

0034-6705

Identifier

10.1017/S0034670510000859

Publisher

University of Notre Dame

Copyright Owner and License

Cambridge University Press

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0034670510000859

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