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Most treatments of territorial rights include a discussion (and rejection) of Locke. There is a remarkable consensus about what Locke's views were. For him, states obtain territorial rights as the result of partial transfers of people's property rights. In this article, I reject this reading. I argue that (a) for Locke, transfers of property rights were neither necessary nor sufficient for territorial rights and that (b) Locke in fact held a two-part theory of territorial rights. I support this reading by appealing to textual and contextual evidence. I conclude by drawing a lesson from Locke's views for current debates on territorial rights.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Political Studies, volume 63, issue 3, in 2015 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

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