Second Treatise of Government and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading Second Treatise of Government on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Second Treatise of Government [Hardcover]

John Locke
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

List Price: $33.00
Price: $31.35 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
You Save: $1.65 (5%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, July 11? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $0.95  
Hardcover $31.35  
Paperback, Unabridged $8.09  

Book Description

July 1, 1980 091514493X 978-0915144938 1st
The Second Treatise is one of the most important political treatises ever written and one of the most far-reaching in its influence.

In his provocative 15-page introduction to this edition, the late eminent political theorist C. B. Macpherson examines Locke's arguments for limited, conditional government, private property, and right of revolution and suggests reasons for the appeal of these arguments in Locke's time and since.

Frequently Bought Together

Second Treatise of Government + Leviathan: With Selected Variants from the Latin Edition of 1668
Price for both: $48.35

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


Macpherson provides for his readers a tightly written, meaty, and often invigorating critical assessment of Locke's argument. In it one finds some of the best of Macpherson's now famous criticism of liberal-democratic government. --Gregory E. Pyrcz in Canadian Philosophical Review

From the Publisher

Library of Liberal Arts title. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Pub Co; 1st edition (July 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 091514493X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0915144938
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #918,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Locke's classic in handy format +plus bonus essay October 13, 2003
In his book, Second Treatise of Government, John Locke (1632 - 1704) writes that all humans are born equal with the same ability to reason for themselves, and because of this, government should have limitations to ensure that people are free from the arbitrary will of another person, according to the laws of nature. Government, in Locke's view, is a social contract between the people in control, and the people who submit to it.
The editor of this edition, C. B. Macpherson, gives a little background and overview in his introduction to this book. He writes that the book "was directed against the principles of Sir Robert Filmer, whose books, asserting the divine authority of kings and denying any right of resistance, were thought by Locke and his fellow Whigs to be too influential among the gentry to be left unchallenged by those who held that resistance to an arbitrary monarch might be justified." (p. viii)
Locke's book served as a philosophical justification for revolting against tyrannical monarchies in the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution. His book was practically quoted in the Declaration of Independence.
Locke lays out his basis for government on the foundation that people are able to reason. Because of this, people have inherent freedoms or natural rights. Though he believed in reason, Locke was an empiricist, meaning he believed that all knowledge of the world comes from what our senses tell us. The mind starts as a "tabula rasa", latin for an empty slate. As soon as we are born, we immediately begin learning ideas. Thus, all the material for our knowledge of the world comes to us through sensations. Nevertheless, Locke had an unshakable faith in human reason. He believed that people do learn what is right and wrong, regardless of what they choose to do.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
It is difficult to write a review of the Second Treatise of Government in that it is a book whose central ideas so permeate both British and American thought that no review can do it justice.
Any student of American history, particularly of the revolution and the formation of the Constitution, out of necessity should read this book. It is a book that the revolutionaries themselves were well acquainted with, and formed the rational basis for justifying both the Revolution and the establishment of the Constitution.
Locke is, also, suprisingly easy to read, even today. Cogent, well-formed arguments inform every page of this masterwork. This is a fascinating book that shaped history itself.
Was this review helpful to you?
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Locke January 31, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Locke presents in "Second Treatise on Government," his theory of government which he believes is essential to promulgate "lest men fall into the dangerous belief that all government in the world is merely the product of force and violence."

Locke defines political power as, "a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good." In order to explain political power, Locke presents his theory of the state of nature. To better explain his thoughts on the state of nature, he argues that, basically, in a state of nature there is also a state of equality. Locke asserts that all men are created equal, and therefore, no person should violate another person's rights. Further, Locke argues that if a person should ever harm another, since as we are all equal doing so would essentially be harming ones self.

Liberty is a reccuring theme and prominently featured in Locke's writings. Locke asserts that liberty is the freedom to be governed exclusively by the laws of nature and by nothing and no one else. After reading this book, one might wonder what Locke's personal feelings were regarding such issues as the European slave trade and/ or the displacement and subsequent genocide of Native Americans Indians, which occurred during his lifetime.
Was this review helpful to you?
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal June 27, 2007
This is usually the third book you read in a Political Philosophy course after "The Republic" and the "Nichomachean Ethics".

Locke comes to an understanding of "society", "government", and "property", among a number of notions central to our way of life. Doing that, he's also justifying them, as they exist. He states better and more clearly than anyone else what it is we think these things are and why we should view them as good. I don't know if anyone is thought to have done these particular things any better. (I guess I'm saying that Hobbes, Rousseau, etc., did other things.)

Lots of good stuff written here on this. Just think it's worth pointing out that Locke's argument for man's leaving the state of nature and his argument for the establishment of property are notoriously inconsistent.

The "state of nature" is more rhetorical device or thought-experiment than historical description. Nonetheless, it is essential to the argument.

Oh well. Plato's dialogues often end in despair.

I wish more people knew political philosophy. It would raise the general level of discussion. People would spend less time monkeying demagogues, charlatans, and hucksters.

Good edition too.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Ten Greatest Books Ever Written: MANDATORY Reading for All...
One of my greatest regrets is that I did not discover this book until I was almost 50. The founding principles of American liberty were born in the mind of John Locke. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Bucky Bliss
5.0 out of 5 stars should be required reading
a necessary read for any student of american history. this should be required in all our public and private high schools.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic !
Its a wonderfully written piece which deserves attention...take the time and read this book it is thought provoking, challenging, and simply awesome !
Published 1 month ago by Liban M. Farah
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts about governance at the most basic level, but quite wordy and...
The Second Treatise is a deep exploration of the fundamentals of governance, starting from man in a state of nature and the need to move to following rules of government. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars Locke Continues to Impact Political Thought
Another difficult book to read but well worth it to understand the genius of the man and his impact on political thought to this day.
Published 3 months ago by Rob Weinhold
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
One of the books that are the cornerstones of the foundation the U.S. of A where founded on and shows the depth of thinking that some of the so labeled founding fathers were... Read more
Published 5 months ago by bookwormser
2.0 out of 5 stars poor quality with outdated text
This book uses the original and sometimes awkward text, which better editions often update to read more smoothly.
This book has zero introductory or other notations. Read more
Published 5 months ago by jacob hellman
5.0 out of 5 stars Purchase recieved!
I received item as expected. I'm glad that I was able to receive it just in the nick of time for class!
Published 6 months ago by transitvega
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern state
The genius of the author is reflected in this work, one of the most influential in the world. It is so because basically all modern states are based on what is here expressed. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Eric Mascarin Perigault
3.0 out of 5 stars Needed For University Class
This is not what you would call pleasure reading by any means but what necessary for my kids university class. They don't even read the whole book, just bits and pieces
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category