John Locke’s Ideas on Natural Law Between Societies

In class, our group was asked to pick out a passage from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government that brought questions to us and then to take a deeper look at the passage to try and answer our questions. Our group chose passage 145 from chapter 12. This passage stumped us because Locke expresses that individual societies have laws that stops at the boarders of that society, and laws from one society to another are left to natural law. Before doing research our first thoughts were that this could not be exactly true, because in today’s society there are international relations that regulate our international laws. We live in a world where nations are interdependent on each other for things such as trade, and alliances that are formed between nations. Natural law seemed to be only regulated at an individual level and we did not see how it could be the main source of international relations. Once we took a deeper look we realized even in today’s world natural law really is what we have to depend on between societies. There have been great attempts to make laws such as the United Nations but not all nations belong to the UN.  However, at a global scale we do not have a legislative branch to make laws, or an executive branch to enforce the laws. Nations break commitments to each other regularly and there is really no justice system that can do anything about this between nations. Therefore, natural law really is what we have to depend on between societies. In today’s society there are many cases in which natural laws do not stop individuals of crime. For example, in recent years there has been a lot of interest on the drug trafficking industry. Between nations drugs are being transported in numerous amounts, and although border controls are trying to prevent it as much as possible, it is not putting a complete stop to it. This brings to question, what exactly is being done at an international level, and at a society level. Drug trafficking is just a single small example of what is happening without control. This leads to the larger question of how can the world work together on an international level to have more regulations and actually follow through on these.

 

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