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  • Berkeley, George | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

John Locke, Berkeley and Hume are all empiricist philosophers that believe in different things.

Aristotle, Locke, and Berkeley: An Intro to the …

Epistemology in Locke and Berkeley Essay Example for …

I have argued that Locke, Berkeley and Hume are three empiricists that have different believes.
A lightbulb, for example, is a transducer. It changes simple electricity (which is not visible) into visible light. It is important to notice here that what goes into the lightbulb (electricity) is not at all the same thing that comes out of it (light). A very naïve person who saw an electric cord leading into the lightbulb might wrongly guess that the cord carried light into the lightbulb. That would be naïve and wrong, of course. In much the same way, what is impacting onto our hearing apparatus is a series of moving waves in a medium. The impact of those waves on our eardrum, and then on into the inner ear, the auditory nerve, and so on, then transduces all that input into a sound. And what Locke would have us notice is that a sound sensation is a very different kind of animal than an impact wave in a medium.

Locke, Berkeley, Hume Central Themes Jonathan Bennett


On the other end of the spectrum, more scholars have adopted the viewof Dunn, Tully, and Ashcraft that it is natural law, not naturalrights, that is primary. They hold that when Locke emphasized theright to life, liberty, and property he was primarily making a pointabout the duties we have toward other people: duties not to kill,enslave, or steal. Most scholars also argue that Locke recognized ageneral duty to assist with the preservation of mankind, including aduty of charity to those who have no other way to procure theirsubsistence (Two Treatises 1.42). These scholars regardduties as primary in Locke because rights exist to ensure that we areable to fulfill our duties. Simmons takes a position similar to thelatter group, but claims that rights are not just the flip side ofduties in Locke, nor merely a means to performing our duties. Instead,rights and duties are equally fundamental because Locke believes in a“robust zone of indifference” in which rights protect ourability to make choices. While these choices cannot violate naturallaw, they are not a mere means to fulfilling natural law either. BrianTienrey questions whether one needs to prioritize natural law ornatural right since both typically function as corollaries. He arguesthat modern natural rights theories are a development from medievalconceptions of natural law that included permissions to act or not actin certain ways.

 

George Berkeley | Philosimply | Philosophy Made Easy


There have been some attempts to find a compromise between thesepositions. Michael Zuckert’s version of the Straussian positionacknowledges more differences between Hobbes and Locke. Zuckert stillquestions the sincerity of Locke’s theism, but thinks that Lockedoes develop a position that grounds property rights in the fact thathuman beings own themselves, something Hobbes denied. Adam Seagravehas gone a step further. He argues that the contradiction betweenLocke’s claim that human beings are owned by God and that humanbeings own themselves is only apparent. Based on passages fromLocke’s other writings (especially the Essay Concnerning HumanUnderstanding) In the passages about divine ownership, Locke isspeaking about humanity as a whole, while in the passages aboutself-ownership he is taking about individual human beings with thecapacity for property ownership. God created human beings who arecapable of having property rights with respect to one another on thebasis of owning their labor. Both of them emphasize differencesbetween Locke’s use of natural rights and the earlier tradition ofnatural law.


Hutchins, R.M. (Ed.) (1971). Great books of the western world: Volume 35 - Locke, Berkeley and Hume (rev. ed). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.


9. Locke and Berkeley | Empiricism | René Descartes

Many scholars reject this position. Yolton, Colman, Ashcraft, Grant,Simmons, Tuckness and others all argue that there is nothing strictlyinconsistent in Locke’s admission in The Reasonableness ofChristianity. That no one has deduced all of natural law fromfirst principles does not mean that none of it has been deduced. Thesupposedly contradictory passages in the Two Treatises arefar from decisive. While it is true that Locke does not provide adeduction in the Essay, it is not clear that he was tryingto. Section 4.10.1–19 of that work seems more concerned to showhow reasoning with moral terms is possible, not to actually provide afull account of natural law. Nonetheless, it must be admitted thatLocke did not treat the topic of natural law as systematically as onemight like. Attempts to work out his theory in more detail withrespect to its ground and its content must try to reconstruct it fromscattered passages in many different texts.

The British empiricists, Locke, Berkeley and Hume

The age of rational religion was coming to a close by themiddle of the eighteenth century.Within a few years of the publication of the 5thedition of Locke's essay, Berkeley attacked the alliance betweenempiricism and the science of Newton and the Royal Society which is animportant feature of Locke's Essay.

John Locke, Berkeley and Hume are all empiricist philosophers

With respect to the grounds and content of natural law, Locke is notcompletely clear. On the one hand, there are many instances where hemakes statements that sound voluntarist to the effect that lawrequires a law giver with authority (Essay 1.3.6, 4.10.7).Locke also repeatedly insists in the Essays on the Law ofNature that created beings have an obligation to obey theircreator (ELN 6). On the other hand there are statements thatseem to imply an external moral standard to which God must conform(Two Treatises 2.195; Works 7:6). Locke clearlywants to avoid the implication that the content of natural law isarbitrary. Several solutions have been proposed. One solutionsuggested by Herzog makes Locke an intellectualist by grounding ourobligation to obey God on a prior duty of gratitude that existsindependent of God. A second option, suggested by Simmons, is simplyto take Locke as a voluntarist since that is where the preponderanceof his statements point. A third option, suggested by Tuckness (andimplied by Grant), is to treat the question of voluntarism as havingtwo different parts, grounds and content. On this view, Locke wasindeed a voluntarist with respect to the question “why should weobey the law of nature?” Locke thought that reason, apart fromthe will of a superior, could only be advisory. With respect tocontent, divine reason and human reason must be sufficiently analogousthat human beings can reason about what God likely wills. Locke takesit for granted that since God created us with reason in order tofollow God’s will, human reason and divine reason are sufficientlysimilar that natural law will not seem arbitrary to us.