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Topics: Political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke Pages: 7 (882 words) Published: October 20, 2014
Enlightenment Philosophers – John Locke

7-2.3: Analyze the Enlightenment ideas of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire that challenged absolutism and influenced the development of limited government.

John Locke of England is considered one of the great political philosophers of the Enlightenment. Locke was influenced heavily by the Glorious Revolution, since he was British. Locke thought the state of nature was a good place where people would get along with one another. However, he thought that people would create a social contract on their own to make life better for everyone. Locke believed all humans were born with natural rights, or rights belonging to all people. His natural rights were the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. These beliefs were a challenge to absolutism and other forms of unlimited government. According to Locke, the social contract was an agreement between the citizens and their government. The government's responsibility was to protect the rights of the people. Locke argued that if the government did not protect people’s rights, then the people had the right to break the social contract by getting rid of their old government and creating a new one. Locke's ideas developed into the idea of “consent of the governed,” or the belief that a government gets its power from the people. Locke's writings had a strong influence on American patriots like Thomas Jefferson, who would write the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Enlightenment Philosophers – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

7-2.3: Analyze the Enlightenment ideas of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire that challenged absolutism and influenced the development of limited government.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau of France believed that in the state of nature, people would get along and work with each other. However, Rousseau thought that by interacting with each other, people would eventually become corrupt and too competitive with each other. As a result, Rousseau argued that it was the role of government to protect the "general will" of the people. Rousseau said that the government should operate based on the idea of majority rules, where a government creates policies that are beneficial to the majority of citizens. Rousseau's view of the social contract would create a limited government, because the government's power would be limited by what the majority of citizens wanted. Rousseau's ideas, along with those of John Locke, formed the foundation for the idea of popular sovereignty which is used in limited governments today. Popular sovereignty says that governments get their power and legitimacy based on what the people or citizens want. American colonists largely rejected Rousseau’s ideas, but his writings would later provide part of the foundation for totalitarian governments. Enlightenment Philosophers – Baron de Montesquieu

7-2.3: Analyze the Enlightenment ideas of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire that challenged absolutism and influenced the development of limited government.

Baron de Montesquieu of France focused on how a government should be organized. Montesquieu promoted the ideas of separation of powers and checks and balances as a way to organize government. By creating a separation of powers, a government is forced to become a limited government. Montesquieu argued that the government would become limited because each branch of the government would check the powers of the other branches. Montesquieu greatly admired the English system of limited government; In fact, the concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances started with the English system. Montesquieu did not create these ideas on his own, but he was largely responsible for making them popular. Also, the English system that existed in his lifetime had only two branches (executive and legislative). In his writings, Montesquieu promoted the...
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