John Locke had such a profound influence on Thomas Jefferson that he may be deemed an honorary founding father of the United States. He advocated the natural equality of human beings, their natural rights to life, liberty, and property, and defined legitimate government in terms that Jefferson would later use in the Declaration of Independence. Locke's life and works are discussed, and the lecture shows how he transformed ideas previously formulated by Machiavelli and Hobbes into a more liberal constitutional theory of the state.
This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.