The John Locke Society (JLS) is an international organization which aims to:
- promote the study of Locke and his philosophical, political, and theological contexts;
- further excellent scholarship in these diverse areas;
- promote mutually beneficial interactions among scholars.
The John Locke Society grew out of a series of Locke Workshops, wherein Locke scholars gathered to discuss works-in-progress. The first Workshop was hosted by Ruth Boeker (UC Dublin) at St. Andrews in June 2012. The second was hosted soon after by Jessica Gordon-Roth (Minnesota) at Washington and Lee University in October 2012. The next was co-hosted by Jessica and Benjamin Hill (Western) and held at CUNY-Lehman College in March 2014. In May 2015, Jessica and Benjamin hosted another workshop at Western. But it was at the 2016 workshop held at the CUNY Graduate Center and co-hosted by Jessica, Benjamin, and Kathryn Tabb (Columbia) that the idea of forming a scholarly society really took off. A number of people stayed on after the workshop to talk about the formation of a scholarly society dedicated to the contributions of Locke. Present at the initial meeting were Patrick Connolly (Iowa State), Jessica Gordon-Roth (Minnesota), Benjamin Hill (Western), Antonia LoLordo (UVA), David Owens (Arizona), Kathryn Tabb (Columbia), and Julie Walsh (Wellesley). This group began brainstorming about how to best organize as a society and (for the most part) comprises the nucleus of the steering committee at present.
As it stands, John Locke’s contributions to philosophy, politics, and economics are largely unbeknownst to the general public. Within academic philosophy, there is a healthy population of Locke scholars, but Locke’s writings do not tend to be treated systematically, or holistically. Because of this, those who work on Locke’s epistemology and metaphysics are largely unaware of what those who work on Locke’s politics are debating about, and vice versa. The John Locke Society (JLS) aims to remedy these issues.