Hum discussion | berk | Berkeley College of New York

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John Locke believes governments are dangerous and must be kept in check by a clear division of powers.  In other words, Locke believed that power corrupts people so it must be watched and kept in check by other powers.  But what justifies some people have power over others in the first place?  Locke’s idea of the so-called “social contract” was a creative way to answer that question.

Here is a short video on Locke’s political theory (also linked in the module): LINK (Links to an external site.).

For this week’s discussion board, please answer any one of the following three questions (you may answer more, if answering one does not reach the 250-word minimum):

[1] Think about this question of some people having authority over other people and what gives them the right to tell others what to do and to compel them to do it if they refuse?    What gives this right of authority to parents, priests, politicians, bosses, and any others you might think interesting to consider?  And what keeps that power and authority in check in case of abuse? Which of these positions are authorities by social contract and which are not?  Explain. 

 [2] According to our American Constitution, people have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but where did they get that right and what you do think about that claim?  Do you believe that any of these rights should be limited by government?   Why or why not?  Do you think any basic human rights in America today are at risk or in jeopardy?  If so, which one would you name and why? 

[3] In terms of knowledge and how we get it, John Locke was a hard-nosed empiricist, as the eText explains.  Locke became famous for his view that we are born into the world knowing absolutely nothing or with no preloaded ideas or mindsets; he called this theory the tabula rasa.  All human knowledge, argued Locke, comes by experience.  Do you agree with Locke’s theory of knowledge?  Why or why not?  And even if you do agree with Locke on this, identify at least one possible problem with this idea that all knowledge comes by experience.   What, for example, happens to knowledge certainty if all knowledge is based on human experience?

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