liberal key thinkers


JOHN LOCKE - classical liberal

social contract theory- society, the state + the government are all based on voluntary agreement/ a contract- citizens obey state law as in exchange the state will guarantee them certain tights 

limited government- government is limited by the rules of the constitution(+ consent of the people)- rejection of someone having 'divine right' to rule 


locke doesnt accept the traditional view that the state is god-given - also rejected the idea of regular citizens being subjects of the state + expected to adhere to the wishes of the monarch

the true state is established by the humans to serve their own interests- the state rests on the voluntary consent of those it governs 

only the true state if it upholds natural rights i.e. the rights to property & liberty- if the state breaks its contract the people are entitled to oppose + remove it 

social contract is based on reason- rational people will not willingly submit to arbitrary rule- the state must serve the individual


contractual nature of the state embodies the concept of limited government- the governed are guaranteed certain rights 

under the social contract- government is limited to representing the interests of the people, thus gaining their consent 

limited nature of government achieved by dispersing power between legislature, executive + judiciary

accepted the right to property encouraged inequality + the government should be religiously tolerant 


women are rational + independent beings and are capable of reason 


in order to be truly free, women should be able to enjoy full civil liberties and allowed to pursue a career 

human nature viewed in optomistic terms- men and women are able to act in a rational way- women should be entitled to the same rights 


social attitudes assumed women were not rational, therefore unable to enjoy individual freedom- few women owned property or had a job- not legally independent 

women were also unable to vote, which is a huge contradiction of the notion of 'government by consent'



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