Abstract: Libertarians have long been divided over how best to interpret the Lockean proviso, which requires that one leave “enough and as good” in common for others after one’s appropriation. This article sheds light on this exegetical question in relation to its qualitative part (“as good”) through a contextual analysis of Locke’s often neglected writings on viticulture and interest rates, as well as through his comments in the Second Treatise itself. I show that the proviso demands qualitative equality of resources, as left-libertarians have argued, but in terms of its content actually comes closer to centrist libertarianism that requires only qualitative sufficiency for survival and comfort to satisfy the demand of qualitative equality. The article also shows how Locke’s peculiar conceptualization of equality makes the proviso immune to right-libertarian criticisms that a demand for qualitative equality is untenable. Moreover, it shows how this reading of the proviso can defend itself from a colonialist implication embedded in an unspecified application of the proviso’s demand for qualitative equality.
Keywords: John Locke, Lockean proviso, appropriation, land, left-libertarianism, centrist libertarianism, right-libertarianism