Source: Sec 6, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, 1690, by John Locke

The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions

but = {adverb} 1. No more than; only:

Did I match the right definition for the above use of but?

If so, did Locke truly mean this? Criminals and the mentally incapacitated may not ONLY consult reason?

Footnote: I encountered this excerpt at the 5 mins 4 s juncture of Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do?, Episode 04: "THIS LAND IS MY LAND"

closed as off-topic by virmaior Apr 23 '15 at 3:51

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    Here, "who will but consult" means "if they were to consult". – virmaior Apr 23 '15 at 3:50

Yes, you did match the right definition of 'but'. I believe what he's trying to say is:

Humans may only consult the law of nature, they may not (re)define or alter it.

What Locke says in this section is that even though you're free, you're not free:

... though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, ...

It is important for him to say this because in section 4 he wrote (emphasis mine):

... we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.

On the one hand there is perfect freedom, on the other hand everyone is bounded by the law of nature. This paradoxical statement needs clarification.

In the sentence you quoted from section 6, he makes sure that no one can change the law of nature. If someone would be able to change that law, he would have perfect freedom without bounds, and then he may harm someone else.

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