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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2019

Celine Bouillot*
PHARE-University Paris 1.


Through his philosophical treatises, John Locke is perceived as the founder of political liberalism. However, from a different perspective, he can also be seen as a mercantilist. To show that there is no complete incompatibility between Locke’s philosophical treatises and his economic essay, I stress the central role of money. Money leads to a conflict, which is usually described as a conflict between “haves” and “have nots” (Macpherson 1962; Vaughn 1980; Caffentzis 1989). I complete this analysis showing that the introduction of money in the state of nature also leads to an uncommon conflict within the owners’ class between “landed men” and “moneyed men.” I also argue that this transition from a state of peace to a state of unrest leads to the establishment of a government whose role is to avoid the escalation of the conflict into a state of war.

Copyright © The History of Economics Society 2019 

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I would like to thank Jean Dellemotte, Daniel Diatkine, and Stephen Meardon for their helpful comments. I also would like to thank the participants at the following conferences and workshops where I presented earlier versions of this paper for their helpful remarks: 16th Summer School on Economic History, Philosophy and History of Economic Thought (Ankara, Turkey, 2013); ESHET conference (Lausanne, Switzerland, 2014); and Atelier Marché monétaire et politiques monétaires (PHARE, Paris, 2015). I am also grateful to two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions.



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