Nature of Politics Notes.doc
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What is Politics? THINK MORE EXPLICITLY
Different interpretations-- no right answer
Murphy's Take: (Working Definition)
1. the habits, norms, rules or laws that communities enact and enforce, in order to promote
peaceful coexistence and their own collective well being;
2. and-- the processes by which communities arrive at these habits, rules, norms, or laws
3. Politics involves the exercise of power;
This definition of politics
•includes, but goes beyond, "political process" and government
•Involves more than just "politicians"
•Dynamic, not static (movements, development, change, flux)
•relationships that involve religion, gender, race, social class
•includes a whole range of human actions and human relations
What is Political Theory?
•the systematic attempt to:
◦articulate basic principles by which a community;s public affairs ought to be organized;
◦provide a conceptual foundation of political behavior;
◦defend in those principles…..
"We begin from the assumption that your views on political manners have some sort of structure
on it" definitions below tend to focus on larger scale matters
•"Ought" or "should" language (normative, not strictly empirical)
•(Relatively) abstract-- how should society be?-- what would a perfect society look like? by the
act of thinking about one, we can think of what we can improve
•Conflict AND consensus-- involves people disagreeing-- do so in a broad consensual
"ought, should, better, worse) -- evaluative language
Structure of the course
•The ends and goals of politics
◦What is politics for?
◦Why have a government at all?
•Politics and Economics (Smith and Marx)
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