The Implications of Distributive Justice in Locke and Rawls Analytical Essay

A comparison and contrast of the views of John Locke and John Rawls on the justice of wealth distribution.
# 150119 | 1,965 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2005 | US
Published on Jan 26, 2012 in Political Science (Political Theory) , Political Science (John Locke)

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The paper looks at how John Locke, in "The Second Treatise", defines the method of just property acquisition, and how Rawls in "Justice as Fairness" promotes two "principles of justice". The paper explains how Locke attaches great importance to the protection of property rights for individuals, while Rawls considers the meaning of such property rights for the least-advantaged people in society. The paper outlines the problems with Locke's views as well as the objections to Rawls' theory of distributive justice through regulation and taxes. The paper reaches the conclusion that Rawls' theory of just property acquisition benefits society to a greater extent than does Locke's theory.

From the Paper:

"John Locke defines the method of just property acquisition in The Second Treatise. Labor is the basis of owning property for Locke: if a man "mixes his labor" with land or livestock, he owns it (Locke 274). For example, if he exerts the effort to till the land or maintain the livestock, the land and livestock are his property. He gained them from the use of his own person's labor, because "every man has a property in his own person" (274). Locke attempts to prove the soundness of this idea by arguing that if land is not cultivated, it has no value to society; therefore cultivated land, even if it is taken out of the category of "common ownership," actually does more good for society if owned privately (279). Locke does partially address the problem of accumulating wealth and increasing inequality. According to Locke, an individual only has the right to "as much as he could make use of" (279); if his property spoils, he has deprived other people by not using it when they could have instead. However, money and precious metals do not spoil, and so, he says, one has the right to accumulate money. Locke admits money as the primary exception to his "spoil" rule (286)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Locke, John. Political Writings. Ed. David Wootton. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc, 2003.
  • Rawls, John. Justice as Fairness: A Restatement. Ed. Erin Kelly. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

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The Implications of Distributive Justice in Locke and Rawls (2012, January 26) Retrieved June 22, 2021, from

MLA Format

"The Implications of Distributive Justice in Locke and Rawls" 26 January 2012. Web. 22 June. 2021. <>