Philosophy Word of the Day — John Locke’s Political Philosophy

John Locke, by Herman Verelst (died 1690). See...

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“John Locke (1632–1704) is among the most influential political philosophers of the modern period. In the Two Treatises of Government, he defended the claim that men are by nature free and equal against claims that God had made all people naturally subject to a monarch. He argued that people have rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property, that have a foundation independent of the laws of any particular society. Locke used the claim that men are naturally free and equal as part of the justification for understanding legitimate political government as the result of a social contract where people in the state of nature conditionally transfer some of their rights to the government in order to better insure the stable, comfortable enjoyment of their lives, liberty, and property.

“Since governments exist by the consent of the people in order to protect the rights of the people and promote the public good, governments that fail to do so can be resisted and replaced with new governments. Locke is thus also important for his defense of the right of revolution. Locke also defends the principle of majority rule and the separation of legislative and executive powers. In the Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke denied that coercion should be used to bring people to (what the ruler believes is) the true religion and also denied that churches should have any coercive power over their members. Locke elaborated on these themes in his later political writings, such as the Second Letter on Toleration and Third Letter on Toleration.” (continue article)

— Alex Tuckness in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Online Encyclopedia of Western Theology

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I just discovered this nice-looking resource on the blogroll of A Time to Think – the Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology.  According to the site, it “contains articles written mainly by students of Boston University Modern Western Theology seminars.”

There’s a great list of articles on important figures in theology such as Augustine, Barth, Jonathan Edwards, Carl Henry, and Niebuhr, as well as significant topics like evangelical theology, Protestant liberalism, Pietism, and the social gospel movement.

Some important figures in philosophy make the list too:  John Hick, Kierkegaard, John Locke, Richard Swinburne, and Nicholas Wolterstorff.

Looks like a fine resource for and by students of theology.

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Philosophy Word of the Day – Identity

{{de|Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (Gemälde von Be...
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The logical relation of numerical sameness, in which each thing stands only to itself. Although everything is what it is and not anything else, philosophers try to formulate more precisely the criteria by means of which we may be sure that one and the same thing is cognized under two different descriptions or at two distinct times. Leibniz held that numerical identity is equivalent to indiscernibility or sameness of all the features each thing has. But Locke maintained that judgments of identity are invariably made by reference to types or sorts of things. The identity of individual persons is an especially troublesome case.

(Via Philosophical Dictionary)

Philosophers of mind who hold to naturalism typically assert some kind of identity relation between the mind and the brain, which many theists find problematic.  J. P. Moreland has done excellent work in defending a substance dualist view of persons that grounds individual identity in the human soul rather than any biological properties.

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Philosophy Word of the Day – Empiricism

John Stuart Mill by G F Watts
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Reliance on experience as the source of ideas and knowledge. More specifically, empiricism is the epistemological theory that genuine information about the world must be acquired by a posteriori means, so that nothing can be thought without first being sensed.

Prominent modern empiricists include Bacon, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Mill. In the twentieth century, empiricism principles were extended and applied by the pragmatists and the logical positivists.

(Via Philosophical Dictionary)

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