Political Science September, 23 2013
Political Science is a branch of philosophy
Normative questions: aspirations, subjective, matters of taste (Examples: why
should I obey the government, what is a good law, should there be limits to
Plato and Aristotle founders of normative questions.
John locke and david hume, switch develops because of the idea of empiricism
(observation and experimentation.. key themes of the enlightenment (revolution of
ideas, get away from religious belief as a source of truth, implement reason (ability
to think and act)). Plants the seeds which leads to much less of a focus (pushes
towards the non-normative side)
Politics can’t be based completely on science.
Concepts in the study of politics
-concepts give us common characteristics about something. The function of
concepts is to provide clarity. Make things simpler, one word with many meanings.
concepts are ideal types (clarify but never 100% accuracy)
example: war (violence, intra-state (civil war) inter-state (between two states)
Democracy: representative, participatory
Country: land that belongs to a specific state
State: independent, self governing community. Refers to a specific and large
territory, enclosed by boundary lines. In that area the state has sovernty for those
who live in that territory.
The strong do as they will, while the weak suffer as they must (Thucydides)
Easy to maintain the sovernty if you have a strong military power to defend it.
Key characteristics of a state:
Collection of institutions whose decisions and actions have a social impact.
States’ main institution is the government, makes decisions that impact that society,
monitors how the decisions are put into place (rules and laws)
These rules are meant to promote local interest or particular interest. In Canada the government is made up of:
Prime minister, cabinit that serves the minister, the civil service.
Other organizations in the state that impact the state by enforcing the law (courts
and police, military,
Three different states in canada: three forms of government- national, federal,
What the state represents;
Plato - upholding morality
John locke – defend property, and maintain order (Free of violence)
Carl marx – instrument of one class, tool used to rule over other classes (Business
class over the proletariat)
Max weber – maintain order, ensure that morality is upheld, instrument of power
(ensure dominance), the state is concerned with power, 1. Laws are maintained by
threat or physical force, state has a monopoly on determining who use violence.
(police, agent of the state), the stick is never enough (physical force) to ensure that
the state’s rule is in order, the state’s rule is maintained only if it is seen as legit in
the eyes of the people.
Legitimacy: the ruled see the state and its rulers as acceptable. A state and its rulers
gained legitimacy on religious or hereditary grounds.
Authority: power that is considered legit (ruled and rulers)
Charismatic authority: special character, supernatural power. example –prophet,
Obama, pierre trudaue (emerge during times of crisis, when the traditional ways of
doing things seem inappropriate, inadequate)
Maning: example of a figure who is not charismatic
Putin: tries to create a charismatic personality
Internalizing the state: people policing their own thoughts (the state’s rule is legit.
School, church, media). Help Preserve the state’s rule. Conservatism and the state
October 21, 13
- traditional conservatism
- paternalistic conservatism
- liberal conservatism
liberal party of Canada: mix of classical and reform liberalists.
Classical liberalism: influenced the economic policy in great Britain and
Economic crisis in the US: root of the crisis stems from classical liberalism.
Greed in wallstreet
Occupy Wallstreet movement: oppose classical liberalism.
Conservatism: fears change, (??)
Key principals: nature of human beings to conserve, natural resistance to
change, distrust the unknown.
Conservatism as an ideology:
Traditional con: developed as a reaction to the French revolution (1792)
Key philosopher: Edmund burke (1729-1797)
Ideas: reason can be used to reorder society so that everyone can be equal.
Pierre: saw himself as a “God”, god of reason.
Burke: the French revolution is an example of the result of a rushed changed.
This emphasis of liberalism as an ideology is very dangerous, emphasis
individual freedom, sacrifice the ??
Breakdown of family
Religion is important because the world reflects god’s will. ??
Order: once the king is overthrown, stability peace and protection will be ruined
Tradition: values practices and institutions that have endured through time
TC Embrace tradition: tradition exists for a reason, the fact that these istitutions
have been around for so long is because they reflect the stored up wisdom of the
past, they have survived the test of time, provide a purpose, if there is a radical
change in tradition, what will fill the void? Organasism: society is like a living body, the problem with liberalism is that liberals
and socialists see society like a machine, and all you have to do is change the bad
parts and replace them. Society to conservatists, various parts of society work
together, a change in one part will impact all the other parts, they are
interdependent, bound to impact a part or the entire society, result is that change
brings about very harmful outcomes which??. Each individual is a part of a group
(family, friends, local community, nation)
Through groups we get security, identity and meaning, individual freedom
compromises this idea,
Revolution is a radical and widespread change in a society’s social, political and
economic order especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.
TC: must ensure that society’s way of life is preserved, the state’s decision makers
need to base their decisions on experience, one becomes a wise decision makers is
experience. Also, tc are not opposed to the state, preserve ?? adapt to the gradual
changes, tc do not oppose change.
Global warming: deal with changing the consumption of families and the society
Keep whats best about society, change how we use things (electronics, cars ect)
Banning these things will bring about large changes which are negative (job losses,
difficulty getting places, mass anger, violence)
The state has a role here, but it should promote gradual reform, do not ban cars,
electronics etc, but it can introduce ??
Taxation can address the problem of global warming: tax the dirty fossil fuels,
gradually to give businesses timeto adjust. Taxes reduce the activity of the taxed
service or good.(fuel, oil, fossil fuels, coal)
Tc: efforts to make everyone equal is wrong, other individuals may have more
ability and are more talented and hard working will get ahead. Differences in wealth
and status (doctor makes more than a janitor) these distincitons are necessary, give
people an incentive to work hard, the push to be better and innovate wouldn’t
happen. Inequality pushes people to work harder and be better (doctors, enigneers
Some will be doctors, ceos, others will be workers …, some are superior to others.
The state’s role is maintain this harmony. We need people to work at macdonalds,
sweep floors, etc.
View of democracy:
Edmun: those who sit in parliament should not be voted in, most people do not have
what it takes to become politicians, voting people in is a dangerous risk, only a ruling elite can be trusted. Only those with virtue and wisdom are capable, like
landowners (educated, spare time, experience in administering land).in today’s
world the capable are business people, good planners, understand what keeps the
Paternalistic c: unlike tc, the state can be used as a tool to produce desired change
that comes suddenly. Skeptical to change but don’t oppose it completely.
(Benjamin Disraeli (1894-1891)
need to maintain order, the rich are obligated to take care of the poor, with wealth
comes responsibilities, the price of priviledge to help the poor.
Introduced programs to improve housing
Type 1: the state should take a back seat and shouldn’t be ever present in our lives,
just ensure that the needs of the people are met.
Robert stanfield: those who live under the poverty line: drop out of school early,
likely to be illiterate, alcohol abuse, early breakup.
Both stanfield and segal: welfare has done nothing positive, state should let people
decide how to spend their money.
Society is a collection of self interested individuals, wealth and status is achieved
through hard work.
Function of the state is to maintain law and order and protect property rights
(classical liberal view)
Property rights: those who own something are more likely to keep the society intact,
Economy: if the state give people jobs, then the merit principle is lost, if merit is the
principle of getting a job then there is a push towards hard work
Keep taxes low November 4, 13
Socialism (minus the state)
Socialism’s approach to human nature
Socialism comes from the latin word: sociare, means to combine or to share
Seeks to address major social problems, poverty inequality and general injustices
(not the only ideology that deal with these issues)
Socialism says individuals cant be separated from society, humans are social
creatures. These individual talents and abilities are not given to us, develop with the
help of others. Social comes from the latin word socius means acting together.
Socialists argue that our talents and abilities are a result of our people interacting.
Socialism says the realities whether someone is rich or poor or their character are
not given naturally, instead all of these outcomes emerge out of societ