What would life be like in a “state of nature”? This was a key question in the development of the natural rights philosophy promoted by John Locke. The natural rights philosophy is based on imagining what life would be like if there were no government. Locke and others called this imaginary situation a “state of nature.” Whether or not such a state existed, thinking about what life would be like if there were no government was very useful to philosophers such as Locke in answering the following questions. 1. What is human nature, that is, what traits of personality and character, if any, do all people have in common? For example, are all people basically selfish or do they tend to care for the welfare of others? 2. What should be the purpose of government? 3. How do the people running a government get the right to govern? 4. How should a government be organized? 5. What kinds of governments should be respected and supported? Take a look. Did the natural rights philosophy influence the American Revolution and resulting government? “ We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…” - Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, 1776) So…what is the right to revolution?
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