Justin Clark

A chapter by Assistant Professor of Philosophy Justin Clark is included in The Lockean Mind, published recently by Routledge.

“Locke on Money” appears in a section of the book that focuses on John Locke’s social philosophy. The chapter examines the 17th-century philosopher’s “treatment of various questions regarding the nature of money and some problems of recoinage.”

Clark said that “in a debate over recoinage in the 1690s, Locke insisted that the value of silver currency should continue to correspond to its value by weight in silver, and that the face value of the coin should never be set at a rate of the government’s choosing.”

He said that “Locke’s economic position in the debate over currency appears to be inconsistent with his view of money as a sign representing commodities,” creating tension in Locke’s position. He said that for Locke, signs “are merely conventional, a product of mutual agreement” and therefor “we might expect the value of currency to be renegotiable, subject to change.”

Clark attempts to resolve the tension by appealing to another feature of his theory, the strategy of “rectification,” which he says plays an important role in Locke’s theory of language, since words are also considered by Locke to be signs.

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