Under Aristotle’s theory, the most important thing to an individual is justice. Aristotle believes that there are specific laws that support the society at is. On the other hand, individuals value prosperity as opposed to justice thus affecting the way people react to different situations. According to Aristotle, positive liberty is the freedom to pursue whatever one wants autonomy independently. This includes having the freedom to choose the political leaders the place where a person lives (Johnson).
The basic principle of modern liberal democracies is fairness. Liberal democracies argue for a competitive form of election that results in a fair election. Liberal democracies value the aspect of competition whereby there are multiple parties, which compete, and a leader is elected from one of them. Fairness is important to the modern liberal democracies as it demonstrates their ability to hold free and fair elections. In liberal democratic theory, liberty is more important as opposed to democracy (Crocker 11). The proposers argue that it is more important to give people freedom and a lesser form of democracy as opposed to restraining their freedom. For a liberal democrat of the 18th century, what would make him happy would be to see the people of his country expressing themselves freely. During this period, people were fighting for freedom and to have all people express themselves openly. Therefore, freedom for all would make such a leader happy. According to Aristotle, happiness is the fullness of the soul. He says that all human actions are geared towards happiness (Crocker 13). Additionally, material things also play an important role in happiness. Therefore, the role of government is to formulate policies that alleviate poverty thus enhancing happiness.
John Locke viewed property as one of the basic human rights. However, he argued that property could only be accumulated by application of labor. The primary role of the government is to protect private property using all its available resources. Jefferson’s Declaration does not express any views that differ with those of John Locke. The concept of government as an instrument of service to the people is consistent in both (Jefferson). According to Locke’s arguments, humans are rational beings who do not need an authoritarian rule over them. On the other hand, Green argues that freedom should only be granted to those who contribute to the society (Green). In Locke’s view, freedom is part of the society and should not be limited to what role a person plays in the society. According to the Founding Fathers, liberty is the freedom granted to the people to do whatever they want as long as it does not hurt anyone else (Thorpe). As seen in Jefferson’s Declaration, putting limits on human rights limits their freedom thus undermining the concept of liberty. In their view, liberty is synonymous to freedom.
The views of Locke and Mills possess some similarities while bringing the differences of their eras. Locke takes a more open perspective to liberty arguing that human beings should have unlimited freedom whether politically, economically or socially (Locke). On the other hand, Mills believes that human beings should have freedom in all other spheres except in the political system (Mill). Locke and Jefferson present similar arguments while Mills shows difference of opinion on the political side.
As seen in the answers given above, the views of Locke and those of Jefferson are similar. On the other hand, those of Mills are quite different. The question on Locke’s views on the role of government in the lives of men is interrelated to that of Jefferson’s views on liberty. They mutually reinforce each other since their answers are similar. From the above explanation, it is evident that things have changed enormously since 1790. For example, the liberal democrats of the modern world provide more avenues of freedom as opposed to those of the 1790’s. Additionally, democracy has spread to other parts of the world making it one of the most recognizable forms of governance. The proper role of government can be seen in Locke’s argument that it should protect its people and their property. This enhances people’s liberty and happiness in different areas. In conclusion, the most suitable form of government is the traditional form of liberal democracy, as it would easily and efficiently protect our happiness. The views of Locke support what the founding fathers intended for the United States.
Bowdoin James. Constitution of Massachusetts. National Humanities Institute, 2009. Web 18 Nov. 2010. <http://www.nhinet.org/ccs/docs/ma-1780.htm>
Crocker, L. (1980). Positive liberty: An essay in normative political philosophy. The Hague: M. Nijhoff. Print.
Green, Hill Thomas. Philosophers. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, 1907. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. < http://www.bartleby.com/224/0132.html >
Jefferson, Thomas. Declaration of Independence. The Charters of Freedom, 1776. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. < http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html >
Johnson, Robert. Kant’s Moral Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 6 Apr. 2007. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. < http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/ >
Locke, John. The Second Treatise to Civil Government. Liberty Library, 1690. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. < http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtreat.htm >
Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Harvard Classics Volume, 1860. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.
< http://www.constitution.org/jsm/liberty.htm >
Thorpe, Francis Newton. The Founders Constitution: Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, Declaration of rights, 1987. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.
< http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/bill_of_rightss5.html >