John Locke, in his “Second Treatise of Government,” postulates that every person has a fundamental right to their own body and labor. This concept is often referred to as “self-ownership” or “body sovereignty.” When he says “Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself,” he is asserting that each individual has exclusive rights over their own body and labor, and no one else has a valid claim to these.
This concept is central to Locke’s labor theory of property, which posits that when an individual mixes their labor with natural resources, they acquire a property right in the resulting product. For instance, if a person uses their labor to cultivate a previously unowned piece of land, they have a right to the crops they produce.
Locke’s idea of self-ownership is also foundational to his views on political philosophy and human rights. He argues that since each individual owns their own body and labor, any attempt to enslave or oppress them is a violation of their natural rights. This idea has greatly influenced democratic and libertarian political theories, and it’s often invoked in discussions about personal freedom and individual rights.