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Modern Political Thought Notes

by: Andrew Edwards

Modern Political Thought Notes POLS 202

Marketplace > SUNY College at Oneonta > Political Science > POLS 202 > Modern Political Thought Notes
Andrew Edwards
SUNY College at Oneonta
GPA 3.91

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These notes provide a brief overview of morality and economics according to Adam Smith and Karl Marx.
Modern Political Theory
Professor Janet Day
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andrew Edwards on Friday April 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 16 views. For similar materials see Modern Political Theory in Political Science at SUNY College at Oneonta.

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Date Created: 04/22/16
Modern Political Thought:  Overview of Morality and Economics By:  Andrew Edwards Lecture by:  Professor Day Adam Smith Background of Adam Smith  18  Century Scholar   Scottish Enlightenment Thinker  He wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations  The government intervention that happened before the French Revolution only benefitted the rich and punished the poor and middle classes.  He believed England had a better economic system. Specific Ideas  He believed that people are social beings.  He created the concept of the sympathy model.  The sympathy model was based on the premise that we think about how others react to  what we do.  This results in the regulation of our actions.  Our inner consciousness conforms to the moral standards that society has.  As a result, the bonds of society are created.  Smith believed that self­reflection and rational thinking were necessary so people could  act morally.  Thus, Smith believed that we must be aware of who we are.  Utility makes an item more convenient.  People want more utility.  Status is achieved since wealth inspires us to work harder.  People value wealth more than utility.  E.G.:  Watches were convenient and created social activity, but they show that people  prefer wealth and status.  People place more emphasis on the means than on the ends.  Smith did not think individuality and self­interest were negative.  The rich continue to buy more products, but this creates more jobs so people can produce  more.  Innovation and higher levels of efficiency caused prices to lower.  The lowering of prices meant that people from the middle and lower classes could buy  more products.  Lower class citizens buy the items that the upper class so they can copy them out of  admiration.  The rich are not happier simply because they own more products.  Self­interest, not altruism, is the main motivator.  Smith acknowledged people as they truly are.  E.G.:  Butchers, bakers, and brewers serve their products for money, not to help people.  According to Smith, the invisible hand regulates the economy.    Many different decisions are made at the market.  Bureaucrats are not capable of accurately deciding what people desire and what to charge them.  Adam Smith believed in limited government, but he was not entirely against government  regulation. Karl Marx Background of Karl Marx  German scholar and intellectual.  He is associated with the ideas of socialism and communism. Specific Ideas  History is rooted in class struggles and struggle is over conflicting material and economic interests.  He believed Communism was a synthesis of feudalism and capitalism.  In a hunter gatherer society, only animals to hunt and hunting tools were necessary.  In an agrarian society, only seeds and tools to till the land were needed.  In an industrial society, minerals, tools for mining them, manufacturing, and laborers are  needed to mine the minerals, bring the products to the market, invent, and repair.  There is a small, ruling class with means to protect their authority.  Bourgeoisie:  Upper­middle class and they control the means of production.  The larger class is the proletariat and it consists of laborers.  The first revolution in Russia was led by peasants.  In the modern state, the executive focuses more on the bourgeoisie just as the nobles and  clergy had a higher standing in the government in France.  The ideological superstructure according to Marx is the foundation of every society.  The ideological superstructure also includes the ideas that are dominant in society.  It controls the ideas within society.  The ideological superstructure ultimately benefits the ruling class.  Marx believed humans are naturally good and that people are not self­interested.  He thinks people can be improved by state intervention.  Marx believed capitalism was once progressive but that it became obsolete.  Marx believed capitalism created alienation and destroyed the creative spirit.  Marx also believed that capitalism would bring about its own end.  Marx advocated for a proletariat revolution.


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