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Once we have knowledge of the content of the law of nature, we must determine from where it derives its authority. In other words, we must ask why we are bound to follow the law once we are aware of its content. Locke begins this discussion by reiterating that the law of nature “is the care and preservation of oneself.” Given this law, he states that virtue should not be understood as a duty but rather the “convenience” of human beings. In this sense, the good is nothing more than what is useful. Further, he adds, the observance of this law is not so much an obligation but rather “a privilege and an advantage, to which we are led by expediency” ( Law , VI: 181). This indicates that Locke thinks that actions that are in conformity with the law are useful and practical. In other words, it is in our best interest to follow the law. While this characterization of why we in fact follow the law is compelling, there is nevertheless still an inquiry to be made into why we ought to follow the law.
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In March 1681, Charles II dissolved Parliament, and it soon became clear that he did not intend to summon Parliament again. Consequently, the only way to stop Stuart absolutism was rebellion. Shaftesbury was the king’s most dangerous opponent, and Locke was at his side. A spy named Humphrey Prideaux reported on Locke’s whereabouts and on suspicions that Locke was the author of seditious pamphlets.
John Locke passed away on October 28, 1704. He is buried in the churchyard of the village of High Laver, east of Harlow in Essex. Locke never got married and did not have any children.