John Locke’s “Second Treatise of Government,” published in 1690 just after and in support of the Glorious Revolution, is the founding philosophical document of modern liberal representative democracies.
In it he anticipates John Rawls’s “original position.” Locke argues that in order to protect their property, over time all groups of humanity form “civil societies” by agreeing *in advance* to rules that will be applied to public and private controversies, civil and criminal; and by establishing a legislature which will make further laws – again, *in advance* – to govern new controversies which may arise.
The essence of this argument is found in Sections 87, 88, 89, 94, 124, 131, and 142, which I have abridged below (advance warning: Locke writes in *extremely* long and convoluted sentences!)(bold emphasis is mine):
Sect. 87. … [B]ecause no political society can be, nor subsist, without having in itself the power to preserve the property, and in order thereunto, punish the offenses of all those of that society; there, and there only is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by it. And thus … the community comes to be the umpire, by settled standing rules, indifferent, and the same to all parties; and by men having authority from the community, for the execution of those rules, decides all the differences that may happen between any members of that society concerning any matter of right; and punishes those offenses which any member hath committed against the society, with such penalties as the law has established…