Modern Political Thought First Lecture
Modern Political Thought First Lecture POLS 202
SUNY College at Oneonta
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andrew Edwards on Friday January 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 202 at SUNY College at Oneonta taught by Professor Janet Day in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 25 views. For similar materials see Modern Political Theory in Political Science at SUNY College at Oneonta.
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Date Created: 01/22/16
Modern Political Thought First Lecture: Paradigm Shift Medieval Europe Lasted from 1300 to 1600 Theories based on Christianity Belief in two realms: one spiritual and one worldly Thomas Aquinas: wrote an essay about codified law and God Made/natural law & believes virtue is superior to all other things codified law: very specific in describing what was and was not allowed natural law: more general in saying what was and was not allowed, based more on moral principles and what is natural, and very broad in emphasis Italian Renaissance inspired many other European countries to modernize led to rise of humanism, a philosophy based on the values of humankind and the individual, logic and scholarly practices permeated education and became the main focus More ideas came about that focused on the physical world as well as more emphasis on rule by governments instead of church Less forms of rule where all authority is centered in one person or group Machiavelli’s Italy Italy was not unified, did not have recognition as a nation, and did not have one single military to serve all the regions. The Roman Catholic Church lost a lot of power and invaders wanted to take over Italy. Virtue seemed to lose its importance among the people of Italy. Machiavelli’s background and ideas lived from 1469 to 1527 wrote Discourses on Livy, History of Florence, The Prince, and the New Science of Politics Having nobility in leadership lessens corruption from his point of view. United power needed to be in place before democracy could be in place in Italy. Machiavelli was in exile in Venice and was a diplomat for the AntiMedici Republican. His idea of realpolitik, which is based on what is practical, and is distrustful of other people. If the ends are ethical, so are the means. History must be used to make decisions about what needs to be done. He seems to support democracy in the form of selecting multiple magistrates. Believed that civic virtue could not be the basis of government since it no longer exists. He believes it is difficult to rule people who have different cultures and speak different languages in the same area. The Prince Machiavelli stated that human nature is not good and stressed the importance of understanding human motivations. The Prince is also based on real politik, which is a set of ideas focused on practicality rather than morality and is not based on ethical consideration. Impartial principles based on science are also discussed in The Prince. Thomas Hobbes Lived from 1588 to 1679, from Malmebury, England Believed in having an absolute ruler to maintain peace and stability. In 1640, Hobbes published a work about how a single person should have all the power. Published On the Citizen in 1647 before writing Leviathan Created the Social Contract Theory, which stated that people must give up certain liberties in order for the government to provide protection and security The Leviathan is a more mature version of Hobbes’ argument that there should be a single ruling body/person with all the authority. An advocate of manmade law who believed humans were at war before the creation of government. He also believed that all other laws are lesser than the right of self protection and that rulers are above the law, but that it is in their best interest to treat the people in exchange for support. State of nature State of nature existed before government. Humans are selfish. Governance is done by natural law/ what is deemed natural. Humans were not controlled by law. Social Contract Government must intervene to end conflict. There is always the possibility of violence and the fear of death. Necessary for security. A single body of government would uphold the social contract. Hobbes’ thinking Humans are selfcentered want to fulfill their wants and want to be glorified. Humans also want more power. Together, people want to seek peace but on their own, they want to seek power. Humans are more or less the same in regards to intelligence. Nobody can validate their belief they can rule based on physical strength or smarts. A process is required for people to choose a leader. Peace leads to trade and creative expression. Hobbes’ Methodology Science and math were used to create a theory of what moral and political life should be like. He believes valid principles must be the foundation. Hobbes lived during the Enlightment and believed in faith in reason, but also thought there are flaws in rationality so an absolute ruler is necessary. John Locke Lived 1632 to 1704 and lived dangerous times. John Locke was politically active with the Whigs whom fought for a government ruled by the Parliament and were a reform party that wanted to lessen the power of royalty. John Locke also believed in free trade, the ending of slave labor, increase the granting of authority by the government or company to a person or group that business related activities. John Locke was also against absolute power. Natural Law & Natural Rights in Locke’s Opinion Nature is more peaceful. People can make their own decisions. People are able to make their own decisions. Government was established to abolish the unknown. Natural law provided rights. Focused on life, freedom, the ability to own possessions. There is no right to be submissive. Government must protect the right of the people. Power should belong to the people. People are able to revolt if their rights are violated by the government. There should be division of government to prevent tyranny. The idea of natural rights inspired the Founding Fathers. Jean Jacque Rousseau and his ideas Believed society is the danger to people and believed in the State of Nature, which he thought implied people using instinct, before morality, caring about others, and people are naturally good Social contract is forced upon the poor. When population, technology, and property increase, so do jealousy and pride. Social contract only benefits those with power and money. There must be a new social contract that focused on what benefits the most people. General will: All people submit, are creators of the law, all have equal freedom, the laws and state are legal, there is a basis in rationality, enlightenment provides freedom, and people should be free. Today in Politics Libertarians are more likely to support Locke’s thinking. Liberals align their ideas closer to Rousseau’s thinking. Conservatives and neoconservative are more supportive of Machiavelli. Most people are against Hobbes’ idea of an absolute ruler.
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