John Locke and the Inequality Between the Sexes

Term Paper, 2018

15 Pages, Grade: 1,0

Abstract or Introduction

Focusing mainly on Locke’s chain of arguments in his Second Treatise, this paper aims at breaking down the key points of his social contract theory to eventually point out the contradiction that obscures his ideas of equality and liberty. For this purpose, firstly his theory of social contract will be presented. Subsequently, his arguments regarding the relationship between the sexes in the private realm will be examined for Locke’s adherence to his own principles which form his theory on the whole. The body of literature which will be used consists primarily of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government. However, secondary literature reflecting and discussing gender inequality in Locke’s work will also be provided in order to gain an insight into the key findings and interpretations of feminist scholars. […]

Though, in his writings, Locke conceptualized and constituted overarching liberal principles in different yet intertwined fields, such as epistemology, education, ethics and politics, the fundamental elements of the latter are at length conflated into this theory of social contract that he introduced in his work, Two Treatises of Government. Therein, the essential principles liberty, equality and property run like a thread and are discussed as innate and natural rights which ultimately need to be granted and protected by a government. Eventually, it was Locke’s concept that has laid the foundation for the construction of a state system and the development of political freedom and economy of the present. However, the interpretation of Locke’s concept as liberal seems to run afoul, particularly when one takes into account his conceptualization of the inequality between sexes within the conjugal society. Starting with his claim of innate and equal rights, the basic scaffolding of his contractual framework and its “egalitarian- individualistic justification of government” (Rosenzweig 2012) indicate a contradiction within Locke’s own line of argument, which in particular and due to its lingering perpetuation of patriarchal structures, is largely discussed between the ranks of feminist scholars.


John Locke and the Inequality Between the Sexes
University of Wuppertal
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
john, locke, inequality, between, sexes
Quote paper
Seda Demirkaya (Author), 2018, John Locke and the Inequality Between the Sexes, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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