Life, Liberty and Possessions

“But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license; though man in that state have an uncontrollable liberty to dispose of his person and possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it.  The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.  For men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker–all the servants of one sovereign Master, sent into the world by His order, and about His business–they are His property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during His, not one another’s pleasure; and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for ours.  Everyone, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station willfully, so, by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.” John Locke, An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government, ed. Edwin A. Burtt, The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill (New York: Random, 1939), p. 405. [Emphasis added]

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