Although there are grains of truth in MacPherson's description of Locke's mercantilism, his reading is far too simplistic to do justice to Locke. It is true that Locke did not offer an explanation for why men wish to accumulate property in the Second Treatise most likely because he took it for granted that his readers would be able to supply the reason from their own experience. MacPherson builds his case on Locke's hidden assumptions, yet this most obvious one he overlooks. The desire for wealth is not unusual among men. It is certainly not generally conceived to be irrational. In Locke's economic writings, to which MacPherson selectively turns to support his argument, Locke clearly states that it is the plenty of the necessaries and conveniencies of life that constitute riches. Wealth consists in the ability to enjoy an abundance and variety of goods. To claim that Locke believed in accumulation for its own sake is bad enough, but to further make him guilty of believing that money alone constituted wealth is to attribute to him an absurdity unfound in the history of economic thought. Locke did favor capital accumulation as a means of increasing wealth, and he did have a definite preference for an increasing money supply because he though it would be an aid to capital accumulation and increased wealth, but he never confused one with another in any meaningful sense. MacPherson, however, accuses Locke not only of believing in a totally nonsensical view of accumulation, he also claims that Locke believed this to be the only true form of rationality.


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