Students will engage in close study of the principal political writings of John Locke, the seventeenth-century British philosopher whose views on political liberty helped shape the U.S. Constitution. They will examine the foundations of the modern tradition of freedom, including natural freedom and equality, limited government, the right to property, religious toleration, and the proper education of free citizens.

Images: Sir Gotfrey Kneller, Portrait of John Locke, 1697 | True Platforme and Manner of the Sitting in the Lower House of Parliament, 1625, British Library

Peter Berkowitz on liberal democracy


Peter Berkowitz

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He studies and writes about, among other things, constitutional government, conservatism and progressivism in America, liberal education, national security and law, and Middle East politics.

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Discussion Questions:

  1. What is “the business of true religion”?
  2. How does Christianity teach toleration?
  3. What is “the business of civil government”?
  4. How far does the duty of toleration extend and what does it require?
  5. Is Locke’s denial of toleration to Catholics and atheists consistent with his principles?
  6. How is religious toleration connected to other forms of toleration?



Discussion Questions:

  1. What, for Locke, is the primary goal of education?
  2. Toward what virtues, or virtue, is Lockean education directed?
  3. Why are tutors necessary?
  4. Why does Locke stress the “love of reputation”?
  5. In what sense is courage or fortitude “the guard and support of the other virtues”?

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