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PSIR 1A-10.5 John Locke – Previous Year Questions & Answers

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] Write on the Locke’s Social Contract. [2022/10m/150w/1e]

Locke is a liberal scholar and a well-known proponent of social contract theory.  According to him, a state of nature is a condition, where humans are free to do anything that pleases them, with complete liberty, but also morality.

The state of nature is that in which humans are free but bound by the rules of morality. This creates a peaceful atmosphere, as opposed to what Hobbes enunciates in his theory that a state of war emerges in a state of nature.

However, Locke also says in his theory, that if there is a threat to life by another person, breaking the law of nature by killing the other in self-defence is considered right, and a state of war will emerge only when a person decides to revolt and involve in criminal activities. But since there is no rule other than that of morality the war will continue to go on. This is where the need for a political community comes into the scene.

A government made by the people, with rules and regulations formed with the consent of people, to be acted upon those who violate the law of nature, comes into force in such situations. This benefits the people in the state of nature in many ways, providing them security against those that can be potential threats and the protection of their rights.

Locke’s social contract prioritises the individual and is regarded as the foundation of the liberal market-based society. [242 words]

2] John Locke is a father of liberalism. Explain. [2018/20m/250w/4a]

John Locke is known for his ideas of the right to life, liberty and property. He was the first scholar to recognize the natural rights of man and is therefore also called the father of liberalism.

Locke has suggested that in the state of nature, man possessed reason. And reason in man guides him not to harm others in their life, liberty and property. Thus he establishes that reason/nature is the source of rights.

In Locke, occasionally there may be situations where reason may fall short and thus we need a state. The state is, therefore an organization that is not absolutely necessary. It is like a night watchman, a necessary evil. In the formation of state, man has not transferred all of his rights to the state.

Since the state has been created by man, the only powers it enjoys are the ones delegated to it. Locke is a possessive individualist. Property is a product of one’s labour and labour is part of man’s personality. The state has to only see that property is acquired properly, the right to property belongs to all, and no one violates another’s property. The sole purpose for which the state is created is protection of property.

Although the rights to life and liberty are widely accepted, there is no unanimity when it comes to the right to property. Rawls, while talking about property also incorporates the idea of the luck factor. For him, along with personal endeavours, there are multiple other factors that contribute to man’s success. He rejects possessive individualism and suggests state incorporate the difference principle in favour of disadvantaged sections. Similar ideas are also expressed in Gandhi when he suggests capitalists recognize the contribution of society in his property and asks them to ‘give back’.

The ideas of Locke form the foundations of liberalism and he is rightly called as father of liberalism. [313 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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