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Simon Fraser University
Political Science
POL 100
Logan M.

03 JUN 2013 1 -Lecture 3: Political Thought, Philosophy, and Ideology 2 - Political Thought  This lecture builds on the previous one, which dealt with concepts  All of our major approaches, concepts, and ideas in politics are based in the development of political thought  Thought extends from philosophy (Greek: philosophia), meaning love of knowledge  Philosophy: study of questions about existence and knowledge, ethics, justice, and morality based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods 3 - Politics and Philosophy  Investigations into nature, the divine, and human action  A search for understanding  Political philosophy is about the ideas behind politics, rather than the ‘mechanics’ that drives it 4 - Ideology  ‘Set or system of ideas that form the basis of a political or economic system and provide guidance and direction for political leadership’  Just about everything in political life today – domestic and global – is influenced by ideology  Ideology frames government objectives, and government action  Ideology differs widely and is often based on various traditions of thought 5 - History of Political Thought  Many strands of political thought  Islamic, Chinese, Japanese, Aboriginal, for example  Modern political science rooted in western philosophy, stemming from Greek antiquity 6 - The Greeks  Early thoughts about nature of politics, the ‘good life,’ and the role of government  Simple questions (e.g., ‘what is justice?’) still not ‘answered’ today 1 2  Plato: what is right, and how should government conduct itself?  Aristotle: politics of the ‘possible’ – how to best achieve better political organization? 7 - Medieval Philosophy  Life and religion (Christianity)  Humans secondary, first and foremost about the role of religion  Thomas Aquinas: introduced Aristotle to Christian world, and the scientific approach  Aquinas used the deductive method, where you start with a hypothesis and then move to observations to support the hypothesis 8 - Renaissance Thought  Secular approach to politics  Niccolò Machiavelli examined the nature of power and leadership  Thomas Hobbes looked at the nature and power of government to create stability 9 - Modern Political Thought  Much of modern political ideas build on these eras of philosophy and take into account enlightenment and industrial thinkers like Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx  Smith: early liberal economic thinking  Mill: liberty and tolerance in society  Marx: critique of capitalism, alternative system of communism 10 - Social Constructivism  Thinkers like John Rawls and Robert Nozick critique ‘what we know’  Social constructivism: a sociological and political meta-theory that explains the interactions between individual agents, their social groupings, and their environment  Can we have objective truth?  Is everything we know tainted by the way we have come to know it? 11 - The ‘Method’ of Political Philosophy 03 JUN 2013  Philosophical inquiry is done by posing answers to perennial questions.  How to distribute benefits in society?  What is the proper role for government?  Answers to these questions are wide ranging  Smith and Marx, for instance, have very different ideas about the role of government in the economy 12 - Ideology  ‘Set of related, generally consistent, ideas and beliefs that provides a basis for political action’  Both descriptive and normative:  Describe courses of action and contain a set of ideas and beliefs  Strongly influenced by societal values 13 - Ideology and Religion  Ideology might be thought of in the same way as religion  They both have preconditions and assumptions  Both have fundamental ‘beliefs’  Neither can be proved ‘right’  Both are the basis of action for people 14 - Where Do Ideologies Come From?  Start with images  ‘Reflections and impressions of reality; not reality’  Those result in attitudes:  ‘Implicit assumptions regarding images’  From there we get values:  ‘Standardized normative views of the world’  And values lead to beliefs:  ‘Certainties and faith in values’  Beliefs lead to ideology 15 - Ideology and Philosophy  Ideology, like religion, can lead to different opinions and conflict  While not necessarily mutually exclusive, ideologies can be divisive  E.g., the Cold War  Ideologies are based in philosophy, though aren’t philosophies themselves 3 4 16 - Liberal Thought  A divergent strain  No two liberal thinkers are necessarily the same!  Assumes progress is possible in society  But also that individuals need laws and rights to live together harmoniously  Roots in the ideas of John Locke:  Equality of right  Consent of citizens 17 - Liberalism and Self-Determination  Early liberal though espoused self-determination:  ‘Ability to act in free choice without external compulsion’  Equality of opportunity meant that all should have same liberty and rights:
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