John Locke and the abuse of words : an analysis of The Second Treatise from the perspective of book III of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding



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This thesis sets out to examine the relationship between John Locke's Second Treatise of Government and his discussion of language in Book III, chapters IX-XI of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke appears in the Essay to call for a precise use of language in both scientific and moral discourse, setting down clear rules governing the use of words, and yet seems in The Second Treatise repeatedly to ignore these guidelines. This thesis seeks to determine the reason, if any, for Locke's failure to comply with his own teaching on language, and the relevance of this failure to understanding his teaching in The Second Treatise. Analysis of the latter work in light of the Essay should help clarify Locke's argument and intent in his Two Treatises.