The Second Treatise of Civil Government
  • Publication Date: August 19, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554811564 / 1554811562
  • 160 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Second Treatise of Civil Government

  • Publication Date: August 19, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554811564 / 1554811562
  • 160 pages; 5½" x 8½"

In this, the second of his Two Treatises of Government, John Locke examines humankind’s transition from its original state of nature to a civil society. One can see the lasting influence of Locke’s ideas through their familiarity to the modern reader—the roots of classical liberalism are here, and many of Locke’s arguments foreshadow contemporary debates concerning government, liberty, and property rights. The introduction and annotations included in this edition are intended to contextualize the work and prevent misunderstanding, without advancing any particular scholarly interpretation or merely summarizing Locke’s reasoning. This edition has its origin in the acclaimed Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Thought and adheres to the anthology’s format and high standards of accuracy and accessibility.

The Broadview Anthology of Social and Political Thought is edited by Andrew Bailey (University of Guelph), Samantha Brennan (University of Western Ontario), Will Kymlicka (Queen’s University), Jacob Levy (McGill University), Alex Sager (Portland State University), and Clark Wolf (Iowa State University).


“An excellent edition of Locke’s classic text of political theory. The engaging and accessible introduction draws readers into Locke’s life and work in politics and philosophy, as well as a number of the most important debates that his thought continues to spark. The annotated text offers a great aid to students learning to navigate an older language of politics.” — Torrey Shanks, University at Albany, SUNY

“Locke’s Second Treatise is among the most influential texts in the history of political thought, and essential reading for students of politics. This edition has an accessibly written introduction that sets the context for the work, brings out its historical importance, and directs students to the most salient concepts and issues to be found in it. It also provides thoughtful questions that will usefully guide classroom discussion.” — Richard Vernon, University of Western Ontario

“With the passage of time, Locke’s Second Treatise has become increasingly difficult for students to understand. The distinctive contribution of this edition, both in the introduction and the notes, is to go further in providing students with the tools to really engage with and understand the primary text.” — Alex Tuckness, Iowa State University


  • Who Was John Locke?
    What Was Locke’s Overall Philosophical Project?
    What is the Structure of The Second Treatise?
    Some Useful Background Information
    Some Common Misconceptions
    How Important and Influential Is The Second Treatise?
    Suggestions for Critical Reflection
    Suggestions for Further Reading

The Second Treatise of Civil Government

  • Preface
    Chapter 1. Of Political Power
    Chapter 2. Of the State of Nature
    Chapter 3. Of the State of War
    Chapter 4. Of Slavery
    Chapter 5. Of Property
    Chapter 6. Of Paternal Power
    Chapter 7. Of Political or Civil Society
    Chapter 8. Of the Beginning of Political Societies
    Chapter 9. Of the Ends of Political Society and Government
    Chapter 10. Of the Forms of a Commonwealth
    Chapter 11. Of the Extent of the Legislative Power
    Chapter 12. Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative Power of the Commonwealth
    Chapter 13. Of the Subordination of the Powers of the Commonwealth
    Chapter 14. Of Prerogative
    Chapter 15. Of Paternal, Political, and Despotical Power, considered together
    Chapter 16. Of Conquest
    Chapter 17. Of Usurpation
    Chapter 18. Of Tyranny
    Chapter 19. Of the Dissolution of Government

Andrew Bailey is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean of Arts at the University of Guelph. He is editor of The Broadview Introduction to Philosophy.