Skip to main content Accesibility Help

John Locke: From Absolutism to Toleration

  • Robert P. Kraynak (a1)

Many of Locke's early writings have been discovered and published in the last 30 years. Among them are two short tracts in which Locke argues that the power of the civil magistrate should be absolute. Because these early tracts are very different from Locke's later teachings, they have been misunderstood by contemporary scholars who do not see any connection between absolutism and liberal toleration. I explain the connection by reconstructing Locke's critique of religious politics, which reveals that absolutism and toleration are the same in principle despite their great difference in practice. I then use this demonstration to explain Locke's development and to illuminate the foundations of contemporary liberalism.

Hide All
Abrams, Phillip (1967). Introduction to John Locke, Two Tracts on Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Aquinas, Saint Thomas (1947). Summa Theologica, 3 vols. Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province. New York: Benziger Brothers.
Ashcraft, Richard (1969). “Faith and Knowledge in Locke's Philosophy.” In Yolton, John W. (ed.), John Locke: Problems and Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bourne, H. R. Fox (1876). The Life of John Locke, 2 vols. London: Henry S. King.
Cranston, Maurice (1957). John Locke: A Biography. New York: Macmillan.
Dunn, John M. (1969). The Political Thought of John Locke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gough, John W. (1973). John Locke's Political Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Hobbes, Thomas (1962). Leviathan. Edited by Oakeshott, Michael. New York: Collier.
Hooker, Richard (1843). The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Edited by Walton, Isaac. Oxford: T. Tegg.
King, Lord Peter (1972; first published 1830). The Life and Letters of John Locke, with Extracts from his Journals, Correspondence, and the Common Place Books. New York: Burt Franklin.
Laslett, Peter (1960). Introduction to John Locke, Two Treatises of Government. London: Cambridge University Press.
Locke, John (1959). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Edited by Fraser, Alexander. New York: Dover Publications.
Locke, John (1954). Essays on the Law of Nature. Edited with an introduction Von Leyden, by W.. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Locke, John (1950). A Letter Concerning Toleration. Edited by Romanell, Patrick. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
Locke, John (1966). Of the Conduct of the Understanding. Edited by Garforth, Francis. New York: Teachers College Press.
Locke, John (1967). Two Tracts on Government. Edited with an introduction by Abrams, Phillip. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Locke, John (1960). Two Treatises of Government. Edited with an introduction by Laslett, Peter. London: Cambridge University Press.
Mabott, John D. (1973). John Locke. London: Macmillan.
Seliger, M. (1968). The Liberal Politics of John Locke. London: Allen and Unwin.
Tarcov, Nathan (1975). Locke's Thoughts Concerning Education, The Family, and Politics. Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University.
Tocqueville, Alexis de (1945). Democracy in America, 2 vols. Edited by Bradley, Phillip. New York: Vintage, Random House.
Viano, C. A. (1961). John Locke: Scritti Editi e Inediti sulla Toleranza. Turin: Einaudi.
Von Leyden, W. (1954). Introduction to John Locke, Essays on the Law of Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Worcester, Elwood (1889). The Religious Opinions of John Locke. Geneva, N.Y.: W.H. Humphrey.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed