Synthese 200 (2):1-35 (2022)

Hun Chung
Waseda University
Locke rejected anarchism. Locke defended the universal necessity of political governments on the grounds that the state of nature will occasionally generate the inconveniences of war. The standard interpretation of Locke identifies three main causes of war in the state of nature: the lack of a common judge, moral disagreement over the law of nature, and self-love. In this paper, I argue that the combination of these three factors does not guarantee that war will occur in every plausible scenarios of Locke’s state of nature. Instead, in order for war to occur at least sometimes in every plausible scenario of Locke’s state of nature, there has to be some sort of epistemic deficit. In this paper, I show via the tools of modern game theory, how Locke’s state of nature may occasionally generate war by two kinds of epistemic problems implied by Locke’s own epistemology: disagreements in subjective probabilities, and uncertainty in other people’s moral motivation to use force to enforce the law of nature. The fact that war occurs primarily because of such epistemic problems suggests a role for a very limited form of government; namely, the ultra-ultra-minimal state, whose role is confined to solving such epistemic problems.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-022-03582-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,130
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory.Gregory S. Kavka - 1986 - Princeton University Press.
Evolution of the Social Contract.Brian Skyrms - 1999 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):229-236.
Evolution of the Social Contract.Brian Skyrms - 1997 - Philosophy 72 (282):604-606.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Locke, Nozick and the State of Nature.Justin P. Bruner - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):705-726.
Hobbes’s State of Nature: A Modern Bayesian Game-Theoretic Analysis.hun CHung - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (3):485--508.
Punishment and Disagreement in the State of Nature.Jacob Barrett - 2020 - Economics and Philosophy 36 (3):334-354.
Evaluating the State of Nature Through Gameplay.Ryan Pollock - 2014 - Teaching Philosophy 37 (1):57-72.
An Analysis of "The Hobbes Game".Lee C. Archie - 1995 - Teaching Philosophy 18 (3):257-268.
Locke, Providence, and the Limits of Natural Philosophy.Elliot Rossiter - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (2):217-235.
An Analysis Of.Lee C. Archie - 1995 - Teaching Philosophy 18 (3):257-268.
On the Narrow Epistemology of Game Theoretic Agents.Boudewijn de Bruin - 2009 - In Ondrej Majer, Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen & Tero Tulenheimo (eds.), Games: Unifying Logic, Language, and Philosophy. Springer.
The Locke Game.Sean Mccann, Catherine Murphy & Robert Zampetti - 1988 - University Press of America.
Locke on War and Peace. [REVIEW]J. B. R. - 1961 - Review of Metaphysics 14 (3):566-567.
The Locke Game.Robert Zampetti - 1983 - Teaching Philosophy 6 (1):15-23.


Added to PP index

Total views
4 ( #1,278,214 of 2,506,501 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #170,106 of 2,506,501 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes