Locke and the Non-arbitrary

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In this article, John Locke's accounts of political liberty and legitimate government are read as expressions of a normative demand for non-arbitrariness. I argue that Locke locates infringements of political liberty in dependence on the arbitrary will of another, whether or not interference or restraint actually takes place. This way Locke is tentatively placed in that tradition of republican thought recently brought to our attention by Pettit, Skinner and others. This reading shifts the focus on legitimacy and identifies the independent moral argument for legitimate government as ruling for the good of the people. Consent is left with a hypothetical role to play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


  • dependence
  • government
  • hypothetical consent
  • legitimacy
  • liberty
  • Locke
  • non-arbitrariness
  • public good
  • republicanism
  • trust


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