Locke and the desire for immortality




Hunt, Bruce A.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Many scholars of John Locke’s political thought argue that for him people are naturally reasonable and rights-respecting, but this view appears to contradict the simple fact that for Locke most people are vicious. It is also doubtful that this contradiction can be relaxed by interpreting viciousness as being the same, or compatible with, being reasonable. Scholars also agree that under Locke’s social compact theory, consent is necessary for government to be legitimate. Yet when most people are vicious, we lack a clear answer for how a reasonable, rights-respecting people can emerge such that they in turn form and consent to reasonable, rights-respecting government. I address these tensions by directing attention to Locke’s view on the desire for immortality, which when satisfied by a reasonable religious faith (exemplified by his view of Christianity) motivates people to become sufficiently reasonable and rights-respecting members of a safe and legitimate social compact.



Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION


Hunt, Bruce A. “Locke and the Desire for Immortality.” Annual Meetings of the Southern Political Science Association, 12 January 2017, New Orleans, LA. Presentation.