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This essay argues that the thief, a liminal figure that haunts the boundary of political membership and the border between the law of reason and the law of beasts, drives Locke’s accounts of the foundation of the commonwealth and the right to rebellion in the Second Treatise of Government. Locke’s political theory is best read through punishment as a theory of subject formation, which relies on an unstable concept of proportionality to produce this liminal figure in order to secure the member as a “stable” political subject.
Dilts, Andrew. “To Kill a Thief: Punishment, Proportionality, and Criminal Subjectivity in Locke’s Second Treatise.” Political Theory, no. 40 (2012): 58–83.