Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

Screenshot Tabelle Begriffes


Find counter arguments by entering NameVs… or …VsName.

Enhanced Search:
Search term 1: Author or Term Search term 2: Author or Term

together with

The author or concept searched is found in the following 1 entries.
Disputed term/author/ism Author
Interpretation Macpherson Gaus I 20
Interpretation/Macpherson/Marxism/Ball: One particularly important Marxian interpretation of key works in political theory is C. B. Macpherson’s The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (1962)(1). By ‘possessive individualism’ Macpherson means the political theory that serves to support and legitimize those mainstays of modern capitalism – economic self-interest and the institution of private property. He finds Hobbes and Locke, in particular, to be ideologists and apologists for capitalism avant la lettre. Thus Locke, for example, ceases to be the good, grey, tolerant, proto-democratic thinker we thought we knew, and becomes instead an extraordinarily clever propagandist for the then-emerging capitalist order. MacphersonVsLocke: Macpherson makes much, for example, of Locke’s discussion of private property in the Second Treatise of Government (1690)(2). Locke’s problem was to justify the institution of private property, particularly since the Scriptures say that God had given the earth to all mankind. How then could any individual make any portion of that common property his own? Locke famously answers that one separates one’s own part from the common by mixing one’s labour with it (...)
Macpherson makes much of these passages, which he takes to represent a key juncture in Locke’s justification of capitalist accumulation and evergreater inequalities of wealth (1962(1)).
VsMacpherson: Macpherson’s critics contend that it is anything but: that Locke was a devout Christian who had deep misgivings about money (the love of which is said in the Scriptures to be ‘the root of all evil’); that the word Locke uses in paragraph 48 is not ‘property’ – that which is properly and by right your own – but ‘possession’ (which is mere fact without moral or legal import: a thief may possess your wallet but it is not properly his, i.e. his property); hence the most we may conclude is that money, and therefore presumably capital itself, is ‘a human institution about whose moral status Locke felt deeply ambivalent’ (Dunn, 1984(4).

1. Macpherson, C.B. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (1962).
2. Locke, J. Second Treatise of Government (1690).
3.Macpherson ibid. 2p. 03–11, 233–5
4. Dunn, John (1984) Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 40

Ball, Terence. 2004. „History and the Interpretation of Texts“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004