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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Rebecca Kingston

POL200 September 15, 2010 - Political theory relates to issues at the national and communal level - 4 ways to read texts: o be attentive and carefully analyze texts. Read book as particular position of one of great knowledge and wisdom o Thinking of them as artifacts, putting them in perspective. Use our knowledge of the present to analyze texts o You as sources for conceptual clarification. We need to be careful to realize that meanings change over time. o Look at texts as working out framework, competing types of justification. Think about several competing types of arguments. - How do we measure human interest If someone were to tell you that justice was not about actions towards other people, or factor of quality of relations with other, but a matter of who you were inside as a person. Exterior vs. interior desires and actions and motives ANALYZE THIS QUESTION FOR NEXT CLASS September 22, 2010 - We have a personal idea of what is good - Goods cant be fully relative o Some good cant be practiced fully in isolation - Our commitments are individual and relative, demand a certain politics (social conditioning) - General theme: What makes for a good place to live? - What goods are most important in politics? - What makes a good city? - Athenian democrats saw their democracy as a necessary condition of the good - Democracy is a form of self government that requires decisions to be made on a basis of persuasion - Some feel there is a connection between democracy in Athens and political theory, it provided a needed to define certain types of goods over others - Democracy developed because thinkers like Plato analyzed political systems and theories - Republic is a commentary on good citizenship and self rule o Based on strong definition of the good - Plato thinks politics is self fashioning - 3 aspects of Athenian democracy: o Instability: Italian city states united by main cities of political gatherings Population was low (45,000 max per city) Often changed very quickly through political systems Achievement of democracy in Athens was a very long process 462-352 BC Athens was democratic o Paradoxes: Main decisions in Greece were made by citizens themselves There was a huge commitment to participation by citizens Major participation in the courts as well Administration was also full of participation Election was more of an aristocratic process (idea that not everyone had an equal chance) There are aspects about the democracy of Athens that were oppressive There was a very restricted citizen class (men, over 18, served in the military etc.) men women and children were excluded (only one tenth of population had this right) This group of citizens could not be subjected to corporeal punishment, monetary advantages etc. o Defending Democracy: Democracy meant bad decision making, there will be a lack of experts, this leads to incompetency Democracy was open to manipulation Concern that people would make decisions based on their narrow views - Given these criticisms, given the strength of an alternative model why was democracy sustained? o Democracy was about more than just institutions o Second features was its commitment to its principals of liberty and equality o For democrats the idea of equality was how one related to another as a citizen o It was a question of how people lived together o This idea of equality means people will treat each other with respect - Politics was a vicious sport in Greece - Each of us stands for one - Democrats argue that democracy was a better way to live with other people - DEFENCES OF DEMOCRACY: o (1) Democratic governments can be more responsible because the many are less corruptible than the few o (2) Some suggested collective judgments can turn better results for the majority o (3) Widespread participation in government and public life was a necessary condition for both individual and collective excellence. - Politics is characteristically human - Reason separates us from other creatures o If we are to excel as humans we must develop our capacities for reason - Practical reason relates to practical matters (involves a sense of ones self, and of priorities) o It is deliberative o It is dialogic (type of reasoning we use in political life) (expands our spectrum of deliberation) - Practice of politics is tied to the excellence of development in humans, Plato - Lived in a time when democracy was in decline in Athens - Came from a wealthier family - Age of 20 met Socrates - Socrates engaged in popular philosophic practice o Confronted anyone who would listen to him o Was put to death by a democratic jury in Athens - Plato became hostile to the idea of broad participation in politics Book 1 - Socrates of book 1 is a bit different than that in other books o He is engaged in the exchange of ideas o But past book 2, he is much more of a pontificator, his discussion partner is merely a yes-man - Sets the tone for the book - Makes us acknowledge that justice is something fundamental to human life - Is justice a matter of outcomes? Procedures? Internal? - We cant really be just without knowing what justice is o Be able to give a consistent and coherent account - Cephalus represents the defender of the view that justice is fulfilling your obligations (legal and moral) o We are just when we follow the laws - Socrates suggests that Cephalus view has major defects o (331.c) some laws are unjust (laws made by an unjust ruler - We cannot define true justice in terms of a rule or law - Even a basic moral rule will not always serve the demands of justice - Justice may be a question of good will: good to your friends harm to your enemies (Polymarchus) o The problem with this is that we can be deceived as to who is our friend and who isnt o Need for a more impartial understanding - (336.b) Thrasymachus claims that justice is the advantage of the stronger (might is right, very relativistic understanding of justice) (Things become what justice is by virtue of what the authority, government or stronger power, says are the rules or laws) - Thrasymachus later says that justice is the opium of the people, people follow it because they are powerless o The rest of the republic may just be a response to this o Thrasymachus basically gets himself confused, Plato here is making a jab at democracy and to the claims of knowledge that democrats may have BOOK II - Glaucon steps up, speaks of justice in terms of its outward gain or losses. (we do it for the respectability that it brings. Provides us with a limit case - Gyges Ring (becomes invisible does bad things yall know dis) o If we were given the opportunity to be unjust without having to suffer the consequences we would want to do so. There is no intrinsic attraction towards justice - Socrates begins his analogy of the just city. o Look in the larger thing to discover the truth towards that which is smaller o Investigation could mislead rather than guide us o City is plurality while soul is singularity o 3 reasons to defend analogy Socrates does not suppose the justice of one is the same as the justice of another Soul is a unity because of patterns or tendencies of choice City itself develops a certain pattern of existence Not just an analogy, state gives birth to the soul. Values of an individual and values of community are similar o He says the city must be self-sufficient o Rooted in the awareness of basic needs o Division of labour (Specialization is a key theme, people are given very specific tasks) o Glaucon suggests the city is a city of pigs (Athenians would not want to live, lacks luxuries)
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