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John Locke and AmericaThe Defence of English Colonialism$
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Barbara Arneil

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198279679

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198279679.001.0001

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Colonialism and Natural Law

Colonialism and Natural Law

(p.45) 2 Colonialism and Natural Law
John Locke and America

Barbara Arneil

Oxford University Press

John Locke's state of nature, and more particularly his natural man, while derived empirically from the accounts of travellers to the Americas, were created within the tradition of natural law. However, the global context within which both the Two Treatises and 17th-century natural law developed has not been explored in detail. In particular, the extent to which natural-law theorists such as Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf were influenced by the colonial interests of their particular countries of origin has been largely overlooked. The development of natural-law theory, which can be traced back to the time of Cicero and beyond, is transformed during the 1600s by the need to answer new questions posed, both on sea and on land, by the expanding colonial empires of Europe. Thus, in considering the natural-law theorists who influenced Locke, this book examines how colonialism influenced both the questions which were posed and the answers that were given.

Keywords:   John Locke, natural law, colonialism, Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf, Europe, state of nature, America, England, property

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