Self-ownership vs. Divine ownership: A Lockean solution to a Liberal democratic dilemma

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While the role of religion in the public life of contemporary liberal democracies constitutes a significant and ongoing topic of debate in political theory, scholars have thus far stopped short of addressing the root of this contentious issue in the apparent contradiction between self-ownership and Divine ownership. I argue that a hitherto unnoticed and persuasive means of resolving this contradiction is implicit in the thought of John Locke. In fact, one of the more controversial issues in recent Lockean scholarship concerns the manner in which Locke's assertions of human self-ownership cohere with his prominent theological commitments. These two sides of Locke's thought may be reconciled, and a potential pathway through the liberal democratic dilemma illumined, by elaborating upon a sophisticated theory of ownership that is implicitly present in Locke's Two Treatises of Government and his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-723
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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