POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Speedstep, Contract, Liberal Democracy

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1. Do the ideas of liberalism and democracy ever come into conflict with
each other?
**prominence of ‘liberal democratic states’
YES… Tension between democracy and liberty
Overlap in sense of equality, but freedom causes conflict
DEMOCRACY DEFINITION
“Democracy is any form of government in which the rules of society are decided by the people
who will be bound by them.”
It is a rule of the many characterized by leadership selection through elections, constitutionalism,
and the rule of law
The fundamental value of democracy is equality with an emphasis on equal rights.
oUnder rule of law, equal rights
oAll accountable to laws of cosntitutions… elections, can participate equally
Can threaten individual liberty
oTyranny of the majority
oSuppress individual initiative, and eliminate the space for experiments in ways of life
LIBERALISM DEFINITION
Political theory and ideology that emphasizes the primacy of the individual and
individual freedom.
Commited to the freedom of individuals to do as they wish without the interference of
other and protecting these values as rights (as long as they don’t harm others)
Likewise, believe in limited state where power of gov is restrained by such device as
constitutions
Aim to preserve individual rights and to maximize freedom of choice
Emphasis on the protection of the individual from the effects of public power
Equality of rights
*liberal democracies less concerned with freedoms of inidvidals but moreso with economic freedom
KEY POINTS:
1. not everyone can be completely free when equal
2. Tyranny of the majority
Democracy may undermine and even destroy liberty
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Liberty is enhanced by democracy – but it must be protected from democracy
Freedom and equality in a traditional sense oppose each other
i.e efforts by the state to reduce inequality or to make valued goods, such as education or
healthcare, available on a more equal basis invariably involve measure of regulation that
interfere with peoples choices to some degree
CONFLICT when liberty seen as absence of interference or freedom of choices
Tyranny of the majority – the potential in a democracy for a majority to create unjust laws and oppress
the minority through its power. Constitutional laws are required to keep the majority in check.
Liberalism is a political ideology that stresses the freedom of individuals. In this sense, liberalism allows
citizens to do as they wish, without the interference of others. A liberal government’s main focus should
be on ensuring the safety of the citizen. The government should only work on matters in the public
sphere.
2. What is the connection between the concepts of rule of law and democracy?
Law and politics are often mentioned in the same breath,
In a democratic state, Rule of law (both citizens and the government are obliged to obey the law)
protects citizens’ rights and liberties from government’s actions
Rule of law – fundamental concept in democratic politics
Under democracy, equal under the law ( justified and reinforced by the rule of law)
Democracy requires the rule of law
Rule of Law
principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law
that is fairly applied and enforced
refers to the conditions that must exist for a law to be justified
odiscusses the punishment for breaking a law must be the same for all people
olaws must apply to everyone equally, regardless of their position within society
a fundamental principle in modern liberal democracies. All citizens are governed by a
single set of laws which are applied equally and impartially. No one is above the law.
The rule of law empowers and constrains political behaviour.
Is in conjunction with democracy as it promotes equality
Democracy
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“Democracy is any form of government in which the rules of society are decided by the people
who will be bound by them.”
It is a rule of the many characterized by leadership selection through elections, constitutionalism,
and the rule of law
The fundamental value of democracy is equality with an emphasis on equal rights.
oUnder rule of law, equal rights
oAll accountable to laws of cosntitutions… elections, can participate equally
``No good governance without accountability
No accountability without rule of law
No rule of law without electoral democracy``
enable the state to act in the interests of the people while protecting the people from the state
everyone or multiple groups of people would have to establish their own rules of
conduct and because those sets of rules could conflict with each other, you could
have chaos or anarchy. That also can happen because people no restraints
against their personal conduct and are not accountable to anyone for anything.
rule of law" provides some possibility for a relatively cohesive set of rules of conduct for
a society to rely upon so that human interaction, trade and commerce can function, if not
actually flourish.
idea is that if everyone is subject to the same rules, at least they are consistent and
uniform and you can't suggest differential treatment (EQUALITY)
3. What is the essence of political debates on climate change?
Environmental concerns, and climate change becoming a prominat issue
The environmental conditions required to maintain human life are very unstable
In the past, humans have created small-scale ecological disasters – limited to a specific
geographical area (Mesopotamia, Greece)
In the past half-century, we have begun to create a global ecological catastrophe
Increase in temperature upsets the delicate ecological balances, triggering off unforeseen
changes
Rising sea levels
CLIMATE CHANGE = major global concern
Depletion of the ozone layer
The layer of air at the 7-18 km altitude which protects the planet from excessive ultraviolet
radiation
Emission of CFCs into the atmosphere
Ozone holes – over Antarctica, a 3-fold depletion
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