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Locke on Punishment, Property and Moral Knowledge

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Locke's admittedly 'very strange' sounding doctrine of natural executive power, according to which the individual has the right to execute the law of nature, has long been one of the most controversial features of his moral philosophy. In contrast to the many commentators who deny its theoretical innovation and challenge its individualist premises, this study proposes that the philosophical significance of Locke's natural right to punish derives from its critical departure from earlier moral and political theory. It also argues that the individualist political and religious implications of the natural punishment doctrine are only fully intelligible in light of Locke's theory of property and the assessment of the epistemological limits and possibilities for acquiring moral knowledge in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.


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