‘A Burthen Too Heavy For Humane Sufferance’: Locke on Reputation

STUART-BUTTLE, T.

HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 38, Number 4

Abstract: Locke emphasized that a concern for reputation powerfully shaped the individual’s conduct. Most scholarship suggests that Locke portrayed this phenomenon in negative terms. This article complicates this picture. A concern for reputation served a constructive role in Locke’s theory of social development, which offered a powerful alternative explanation of the origins of moral consensus and political authority to Hobbes’s. Locke nonetheless suggested that misunderstandings engendered in Christian commonwealths regarding the nature of political and religious authority had impacted negatively on the moral regulation of societies. The forces governing society, which once habituated individuals in beneficial ways, now led them astray.