In the Second Treatise of Government, Locke clearly intends to construct a political order that limits the harm a tyrannical ruler can do, but his account of prerogative also effectively limits the good a ruler can do. If political and paternal power are distinct, then the standard for legitimate rule is not the public good but the good as the public understands it. The significance of this distinction becomes clear when we recognize Locke’s pessimism about our ability to adequately judge the public good. Locke’s reliance on the public’s judgment as the final authority, despite his expectation that we will judge badly, can be explained in practical or pedagogical terms. He further suggests that the limits to a ruler’s power follow from inherent limits on what human beings can know about the good.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq20172277
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