Key Themes In Political Analysis
Terms in this set (70)
What is the definition of Rationalism?
the doctrine that knowledge is acquired by reason without resort to experience.
Provide 3 features of Rationalism
1- implies that human beings possess the capacity to shape their own lives and their own world (world has a rational structure because humans enjoy free will & self-determination)
2- underline the importance of individual freedom and autonomy over state authority (Individuals have right & ability to govern themselves, but are primarily governed through deliberation)
3- believe that knowledge comes primarily from human intelligence or reason rather than experience, custom and tradition (Humans are capable of resolving their differences through debate and reasoned discussion)
Give an example of Rationalism in practice
The enlightenment: Led Liberals to believe in progress, in their capacity to understand, interpret and ultimately change their world through scientific, philosophical and moral discoveries. Essentially this was a period where intellectuals turned away from religious dogmas and faith.
What are 4 implications of Rationalism?
1- Self Reliant (shape their own lives)
2- Conflict Resolution
3- Belief in Progress in Society
4- Belief in Individual Progress
Why is Rationalism "Self-Reliant?"
-Importance of individual freedom and autonomy over state authority. Individuals have the ability to govern themselves and the ability to do what they like.
-Modern democracy: Morality/censorship - Humans are guided by intellect and by a process of argument, analysis and debate.
Why is Rationalism a "Conflict Resolution"
-Human beings are capable of resolving their differences through debate and reasoned discussion rather than bloodshed or war.
-International Relations - European Union and UN to prevent wars.
Why does Rationalism lead to a "Belief in Progress in Society?"
-Rationalism leads to a belief in progressin the capacity of humans to understand, interpret and ultimately change through scientific, moral and philosophical discoveries.
-Tradition - House of Lords is based on ability rather than popularity.
Why does Rationalism lead to a "Belief in Individual Progress?"
-Strong belief in progress, as human beings are reason driven creatures they enjoy free will and self determination.
-Crime and Punishment - everyone given a fair trial and jury.
What theorist is associated with Rationalism?
JS Mill based his theories upon the idea that human beings are rational.
-Placed so much faith in the individual liberty guided by reason where individuals would be able to seek happiness and self realisation.
-Argued women, like men were rational and entitled to political influence.
Explain 5 Liberal views of Human Nature and Society.
1- Rational - Individuals have the capacity to use reason to solve problems logically through a process of deliberation and act on these decisions.
2- Unique - Each human is defined by inner qualities, a personal identity, which is purely their own - not defined by membership of social groups.
3- Self-Reliant - capable of looking after themselves without relying on other people or the state.
4- Self-Seeking - mainly driven by their own rational self interest.
5- Capable of Personal Development (progress) - able to improve themselves, learning from their mistakes and progressing through education
Give 5 implications of Liberal views of Human Nature and Society.
1- Rational - Humans are capable of resolving differences through debate and reasoned discussion.
2- Unique - Individuals should be judged according to their unique qualities as every person has different ideas, views and pleasures.
3- Self Reliant - Liberals are against any form of paternalism whereby the state helps to look after people.
4- Self seeking - This could lead to one individual abusing another in the pursuit of his own rational self interest.
5- Capable of personal development (Progress) - Society as a whole can progress and learn from the errors of previous generations.
Define 3 theorists associated with Natural Rights
1- LOCKE ('No-one ought to harm another in his life, liberty and property' - society should be constructed so as to afford protection to individual interests and needs.)
2- PAINE (the preservation of the natural and imprescriptable Rights of Man, liberty, prosperity, security and resistance from oppression)
3- JEFFERSON (all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights - the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness)
belief in the supreme importance of the individual over any social group or collective body. The Liberal view of human nature has a great influence on how they view the nature of society, the concept of the individual suggests rather more.
Define Methodical Individualism
perspective of the individual is central in any method to solve a social, economic or political problem. All Liberal theory is built on the belief that humans are naturally rational acting according to personal choice rather than a collective.
Define Ethical Individualism
Society should be constructed so as to benefit the individual. This gives moral/ethical priority to individual rights, needs or interests, what is good for the individual, not what is good for society or a social group.
Human beings share certain fundamental characteristics and rights. Individuals are not defined by their cultural, social or racial background but by the universal unique identity of the individual.
Give the Classical Liberal view of Individualism/ Human Nature
-Human beings are hedonistic and pleasure seeking creatures
-Utilitarianism (individuals are motivated purely by self interest - gain pleasure & avoid pain)
-Pleasure or happiness are good and pain or unhappiness self evidently bad.
What theorist is associated with the Classical Liberal view of Individualism/ Human Nature
Utility Maximiser Utilitarianism:
-principle of 'the greatest happiness to the greatest number' is established
-utility maximisers provide Classical Liberalism with a moral philosophy that explains how and why individuals act as they do.
What are the implications of the Classical Liberal view of Individualism/ Human Nature
SMITH - Free Market
-utility is best described as the pleasure and satisfaction that is gained from the consumption of material goods and services(should be free to pursue rational self-interest
McPHERSON - Possessive Individualism
-Possessive individualism is defined as a conception of the individual owing nothing to society, placing their own interests before those of their human beings.
Give the Modern Liberal view of Individualism/ Human Nature
-GREEN and HOBHOUSE accepted the Classical Liberal belief in the importance of the individual but argued that we are not merely driven to pursue our own interest.
-Not as narrowly self interested, but as socially responsible, capable of altruism for fellow human beings. Capacity of each individual to achieve potential.
What theorist is associated with the Modern Liberal view of Individualism/ Human Nature
-critical of Classical utilitarianism and thought the notion of humans as pure utility maximisers both shallow and unconvincing
-placed emphasis on human flourishing, rather than crude satisfaction of interests
What are the implications of the Modern Liberal view of Individualism/ Human Nature
-changed from a doctrine of individual greed to a philosophy of individual self development
-Developmental individualism used to construct arguments in favour of social welfare, promote equality of opportunity i.e. state education & welfare to aid potential
Give 3 features that summarise a Liberal view of Society
1- Atomistic (fashioned out of voluntary contracts or agreements made by rational self interested and largely self reliant human beings. Society is nothing more than a collection of individual units or atoms - i.e. CL goal of greatest possible individual freedom
2- Mechanistic (Human Creation) (viewing society not as natural but as a human creation constructed by individuals to serve their interests or purposes)
3- Maintained by self interest (all social and political behaviour can be understood in terms of the choices made by self interested individuals without reference to collective entities such as society)
Give the two other features summarising Liberal view of Society.
1- Meritocratic(system of government or another organisation which judges individuals on having certain merits which could range from intelligence to morality to general aptitude to specific knowledge.)
2- Belief in Pluralism/Diversity (general balance of interests that tends to promote harmony and equilibrium i.e. SMITH's 'invisible hand' operating in the marketplace - 'government is best which governs least'.)
Give six reasons why Liberals support freedom
1- Rational - Individuals have the intellectual capacity to work out the best course of action, to the extent that humans are rational; free to pursue their interests.
2- Unique - No-one else can know what is good for an individual. The individual is the best judge of their own actions. Anti-paternalism; the state should not interfere with the freedom of the individual.
3- Self Reliant - Gives individuals the opportunity to pursue their own interests by exercising choice.
4- Self seeking - Liberty is the only condition in which people are able to develop their skills and talents and achieve their potential.
5- Capable of personal development (Progress) - Liberty is the only condition which people are able to develop their skills and talents and achieve their potential.
6- Utilitarianism - Enables people to maximise pleasure/ minimise pain.
Summarise the views of 5 theorists regarding freedom.
LOCKE: Humans have a natural right to maximise utility.
BENTHAM: The result of freedom will be 'the greatest happiness to the greatest number'.
JS MILL: Freedom allows for individuality and is the basis of moral self development. If freedom doesnt exist we lose the power to look after ourselves.
PAINE: 'Imprescriptable rights of man, liberty, prosperity, security and resistance from oppression'.
JEFFERSON: 'The right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness'.
Give three limits that Liberals would place on freedom
1- Freedom under the law (each individual must respect the fact that every other individual enjoys an equal right to freedom - RAWLS "Everyone is entitled to the widest possibility of liberty consistent with a like liberty for all"
2- Freedom linked to rationality (freedom of people who are deemed to be irrational should be restricted from harming themselves physically or morally - JS MILL "Minimal restrictions are needed to protect the freedom of others")
3- Actions that would harm others (Private matters should be a matter for each individual whereas Public matters should be a matter for state action - JS MILL harm principle "individuals shouldn't be restricted from pursuing an act which would only harm themselves, physically or morally)
What is "Negative Freedom/Liberty" & what theorist is associated with it
Negative freedom is the absence of external restrictions on an individuals behaviour, you are free unless someone is actively preventing you from doing something
-HAYEK - Someone is free if there is no control of the environment or circumstances of a person
-BERLIN - Liberty in this sense is simply the area within which a man can act unobstructed by others. If I am prevented by others from doing what I could otherwise do, I am to that degree unfree.
Give 4 implications of Negative Liberty
1- Minimal State - Definate limits need to be placed upon both law and the state. The state should be restricted to the protection of one persons liberty from the encroachment of others.
2- Free Market - 'Laissez faire' economics; the economy works best when largely left alone by the state. State intervention will damage the natural balance of the free market.
3- Strict Public Private seperation - (Family and personal relationships) A realm in which people can be themselves left alone to do, say or think anything they please. Intrusion here is an intrusion of liberty.
4- Anti-welfare - Inability, disease, old age are nothing to do with Liberty or the business of the state.
Define "Positive Freedom/Liberty"
- the capacity to achieve ones goals and the ability to be ones own master.
-You are free when you live under the right conditions to pursue your own rational self interest.
Why do Modern Liberals prefer "Positive Freedom/Liberty?"
-Believe that Negative Freedom is inadequate on its own
-still believe that in the vast majority of cases there should be negative liberty, but in key places people need to be provided with the conditions under which to act as a free individual i.e. 19th Century when unrestrained capitalism = widespread poverty
What theorist is associated with "Positive Freedom"
-rejected the early Liberal conception of human beings as self seeking utility maximisers and suggested people are capable of altruism (have sympathy for one another and possess social responsibilities)
-favoured positive freedom because it recognises social disadvantage and inequality.
Give the four main implications of Positive Liberty
1- Enabling State - The state plays a role in intervening in lives of individuals providing them with minimal conditions to 'enable' them to act as free and rational individuals.
2- Economic Management - The free market left alone can lead to massive inequality and a restriction on freedom. The state should manage the economy to prevent this.
3- Greater role for the public sphere - State intervention in the lives of individuals is justifiable to provide the circumstances under which individuals can be free.
4- Social Welfarism - Poverty, disease etc are barriers preventing individuals acting as free individuals. The Welfare State should contribute to the lives of the homeless, ill etc enabling them to be free individuals.
On what ground do Modern Liberals justify state intervention?
And how do Classical Liberals criticise this?
State intervention for Modern Liberals is only justified to provide the minimal conditions under which an individual can then look after themselves.
-BERLIN feared governments would turn to tyranny, setting a particular goal for society and deciding what they should do as citizens whilst ignoring their actual desires.
Provide a basic definition for: Power, Authority, Sovereignty, The State, Government
Power - A measure of an entities ability to control their environment, perceived as legitimate by the social structure and accepted as endemic to humans as social beings.
Authority - An elected legitimate power.
Sovereignty - Absolute, unrestrained power
The State - Power should reside with the individual, limited state intervention.
Government - The organisation through which a political unit exercises its authority.
Why do Liberals fear Power, authority and the state?
-Authority goes against the Liberal belief in individual freedom. The state claims sovereign power BUT for Liberals individual is sovereign (clash between state & individual sovereignty)
-Fear unrestrained power as it threatens the freedom of the individual. If an individual becomes too powerful, this could restrict the freedom of others.
ACTON - 'Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men'.
Give two reasons why Liberals think Authority/The State is necessary
-Liberals do not believe that a balanced and tolerant society will develop naturally. It may be rational for free self interested individuals to exploit other individuals.
- fear that free individuals may wish to exploit others, steal their property or even to turn them into slaves if it is in their interests. Thus the liberty of one person is always in danger, only a sovereign state could guarantee freedom.
Explain the three main features of LOCKE's social contract
1- State of Nature - Many people are unwilling to respect the rights of others in a state of nature; pre-political society before the setting up of a state characterised by unrestrained individual freedom.
2- Actions of Rational Individuals - An individual can become subjected to the political will of another by obligating to submit to the determination of the majority and to be controlled by it.
3- Nature and basis of social contract - The government agrees to govern by national law and respect individual rights, while people agree to accept the authority of government and obey its laws.
What is the limitation of LOCKE's social contract
Should the government not govern by national law, or should it abuse natural rights of life, liberty and property the people should have the right to cancel the contract and dissolve the government.
Give the three Liberal solutions to the problem of Authority and the state
Authority must rise from below and be based on consent (State = created by individuals for individuals. Individuals accept certain limits to their freedom in order to guarantee order. Govt arises out of the individuals consent to be governed. The authority of the state comes from below from the general population.
Limited role of the state (Political authority must be legitimate and acceptable in the eyes of those who are subject to it. Since govt arises from the consent of the population support for the state can be withdrawn)
Liberal Constitutionalism (diffuse, decentralise power/ creates checks and balances - A codified constitution limits the power of govt by binding them to an agreed set of laws and practices, thus establishing internal and external checks on govt power. Controversial as can prevent flexibility but protect fundamental rights)
What theorist is associated with the solutions to the problems of Authority & the State
LOCKE - In a state of nature rational individuals would enter into an agreement or social contract to establish a sovereign govnernment.
Give an example of LOCKE's social contract
-Liberal Representative Democracy in the USA (all individuals would sacrifice a bit of their liberty to create a system of law and to protect their liberty, enshrined in the codified constitution)
Outline the Classical Liberal version of the state
-retains responsibility for maintaining order, security and peace in order to guarantee the protection of individual liberties and prevent the forming of monopolies
i.e. PAINE - "'Government even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one'"
Explain the Modern Liberal view of the state
-based on the idea of positive liberty
-individuals obtained freedom not purely by being left alone but by experiencing social conditions that allow them to fulfil their own hopes and goals.
i.e. HOBHOUSE - "In 'the crisis of Liberalism' in 1909 he said that 'Liberalism is now formally committed to a task which certainly involves a new conception of the state'"
Give 2 Liberal arguments in favour of Democracy
1. Limited idea of protective democracy - Voting rights should be extended to those who can defend their natural rights against government. If government can tax us we should be able to protect ourselves by controlling the legislature
2. Maximising Happiness - Believed in utilitarian thought; 'greatest happiness to the greatest number'. Individuals are all pleasure seekers and the best way to allow people to maximise pleasure is to set up a democratic government.
Give another 2 Liberal arguments in favour of Democracy
3. Self-development - By participating in the democratic process individuals would gradually educate themselves against political and social issues and develop as individuals. They would strengthen their sensibilities achieving a higher level of development.
4. Consensus Building - Liberal theories of democracy focus on the need for consensus in society, the attraction of democracy is that it is the only system of rule capable of maintaining equilibrium within complex and fluid modern societies.
Give 2 Liberal arguments against Democracy
1. Tyranny of the majority - The Liberal belief in the sovereignty of the individual clearly clashes with the collectivist implications of democracy. Majoirty has tendency to impose ideas and practices as rules of conduct on everyone, people don't abide suffer social consequences.
2. Inequality of political wisdom - Political wisdom is unequally distributed and is largely related to education. The uneducated are more likely to act irrationally or according to narrow class interests, whereas the educated are more able to use their wisdom and experience for the benefit of others.
Give a further 2 Liberal arguments against Democracy
3. Individual self interest - Individuals are governed by self interest. Democracy emerged as a means by which people could be liberated and free to express their self interested individualism, and yet excessive amounts can result in the oppression of individuals.
4. Protection of Property - Believed that poor if given the vote would seek to overthrow the rich and remove their property. Originally democracy was seen as dangerous and an unworkable idea that encouraged people with no property to imagine they were able to govern. Critics of Liberalism say its more concerned with property than popular power.
Define Liberal Constitutionalism
Government institutions and political processes are effectively constrained by constitutional rules which limit the power and protect the rights of individuals and groups. This protects Liberty through the establishment of internal and external checks on government power.
Explain 3 features of Liberal Constitutionalism
1- Codified Constitution - Limits the power of government by binding them to an agreed set of laws and principles, establishing internal and external constraints on government power. This is controversial as it can prevent flexibility and rights.
2- Entrenched Bill of Rights - An integral part of the constitution - protects the individuals fundamental freedoms from government tyranny. This guarantees a two tier legal system and entrenchment.
3- Separation of Powers - Ensures that an individual section of government cannot become too powerful. Balanced between Executive, Legislative and Judiciary.
Give the other two features of Liberal Constitutionalism.
4- Federalism - Federalism describes a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between government and political units.
5- Rule of Law - The Rule of Law establishes everyone is equal under the law and all have to obey it regardless of their position in society.
Give four features of a Liberal Democracy
1. Government by consent - The basis of government must be government by consent, a representative and responsible government indirectly elected which can be held accountable for its actions and removed.
2. Full access to all legal groups - The political system should allow full access to all legal groups, a universal franchise with free and fair elections.
3. Limited by sovereign constitution - Clear distinction between public sphere of the state and private sphere of civil society. (Ideally codified)
4. Individual and group rights must be protected - Existence of Civil Liberties such as freedom of speech (ideally in an entrenched document).
Give three features of Classical Liberalisms attitude to the economy
1- Economy guided by egotistical self interest (Although the economic market operates through individual self interest, it naturally promotes harmony and prosperity.)
2- Market forces (Supply and Demand) ensures efficiency and prosperity (SMITH argued that economic prosperity is achieved not through conscious state regulation but occurs naturally through the impersonal pressure of the market forces of supply and demand)
3- Self Regulating no state intervention (Laissez faire) (economy was self regulating and governed by the 'invisible hand' of market forces - works best when left alone)
Give two features of Liberals attitude to the Economy
1- Trickle down effect - Smith's ideas are based on the idea that economic self interest will lead to benefits for all; wealth 'trickle down through society'.
2- International Free Trade - This led to a belief in the free market idea and a 'laissez faire' approach in which states don't intervene in the economy. Globally this led to the belief in free trade where countries don't tax or restrict the movement of goods. The Free Market has been taken up by Neo-Liberals and international organisations: IMF and WTO.
Give two key theorists associated with Liberals attitude to the Economy
SMITH - 'Invisible Hand' - guides the economy is the natural result when workers pursue their own interests, this regulates the economy allowing it to form cohesiveness and a fresh order of its own.
FRIEDMAN -reflected a form of 'Market fundamentalism'- market offered a solution to all economic/social problems.
Give two key features of Modern Liberals attitude to the economy
-Unrestrained free market will spiral into recession - ML believe that the unrestrained private interest of the free market when left alone is unable to guarantee general prosperity.
-Government injection of demand will create multiplier effect - KEYNES argued that depression could be avoided by governments 'managing their economies' by influencing the level of demand. Through demand management governments have the ability to manipulate the economy to produce more wealth
Give a key Modern Liberal Economic theorist and an example of when it was used
KEYNES - Proposed that the state should inject money into the capitalist economy through job creation. These ideas were adopted in the Post war Prosperity & contributed to the Post-War Prosperity of the 50's & 60's
Give three different types of equality that all Liberals believe in
1- Foundational Equality - The belief that all people are created equally. Everyone has equal moral worth and this should translate into equal respect for all persons.
2- Legal/formal Equality - Each person has the right to be treated equally by the law. They should have an equal freedom to act however they may choose.
3- Equality of Opportunity - Everyone has the right to the same opportunity to succeed in life. Social position should be based on position of merit producing a meritocratic society. Example: Jobs and universities should be open to the most able.
How do Classical and Modern Liberals differ over equality of opportunity
Classical Liberals prefer the free market whilst Modern Liberals prefer economic management through Keynesianism. Classical Liberals believe solely in negative liberty and view humans as self seeking and reliant.
Why do Liberals criticise Socialist views of equality?
Social Equality - Everyone should receive roughly the same (wages/income/resources) regardless of their ability or effort. Liberals would not agree as people would be constrained and not able to live their lives freely.
-FRIEDMAN - 'A society that places equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither'.
Define Social Justice
the idea of creating an egalitarian society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights and recognises the dignity of every human being.
Outline Classical Liberalism's interpretation of Social Justice
-SPENCER - Used the theory of natural selection to develop the social principle of survival of the fittest. People who are best suited by nature to survive rise to the top, while the less fit fall to the bottom. Inequalities of wealth, social position and political power are therefore natural and inevitable, and the government should not interfere
Outline a Modern Liberal view of Social Justice
Modern Liberalism was further developed in the second half of the twentieth century with the emergence of so called Social Liberalism, or Social Democratic Liberalism, essentially in the writings of RAWLS. Social Liberalism is distinguished by its support for relative social equality, usually seen as the defining value of socialism
-everyone should be granted rights, liberties, powers, opportunities, income, wealth, self respect
How do Modern Liberals like Rawls justify social welfare but also individualism?
RAWLS argues first that we will only agree to an equal distribution unless a certain amount of inequality will work to everyones advantage. Example: Providing incentives which will generate more wealth for everyone.
Second, once a certain level of material well being is secured, we will value our basic liberties more than other goods. So, equal liberty will be preferred to an unequal liberty but greater wealth.
List the 5 different areas between Classical and Modern Liberalism
State- Minimal State vs. Enabling State.
Individual - Egotistical vs. Developmental.
Freedom - Negative vs Positive.
Social Justice - Social Darwinism vs Social Welfarism.
Economy - Free Market vs Economic Management.
Outline difference of CL & ML in regards to the individual
(Classical) Egotistical Individualism - Human beings are hedonistic and self seeking creatures. Individuals are motivated purely by self interest, the desire for pleasure, happiness or avoiding pain - BENTHAM
(Modern) Developmental Individualism - Individual human nature is not narrowly self interested but as socially responsible, capable of altruistic concern for fellow human beings. Each individual should realise their full potential. - HOBHOUSE
Outline the different Liberal interpretations of freedom
(Classical) Negative Freedom - the absence of external restrictions on an individuals behaviour. You are free unless someone is actively preventing you from doing something - BERLIN
(Modern) Positive Freedom - Positive Freedom is the capacity to achieve ones goals and the ability to be ones own master. You are free when you live under the right conditions to pursue your own rational self interest - GREEN
Outline the different views of the state
(Classical) Minimal State - This retains responsibility for maintaining order, security and peace in order to guarantee the protection of individual liberties. Any further extension of the state was in danger of eroding individual freedom - PAINE
(Modern) Enabling State - The State plays a role in intervening in lives of individuals providing them with minimal conditions to enable them to act as a free rational individual - GREEN
Outline the different interpretations of the economy
(Classical) Free Market Liberalism - The Free Market/ Free Trade Clause has been taken up by neo-classical Liberals in their belief that unrestrained economic self interest will ultimately lead to greater benefits for all as wealth will 'trickle' down through society - SMITH
(Modern) Economic Management or Keynesian Economics - Argues that depression could be avoided by governments managing their economics by influencing the level of demand. Government spending could act as an infection of demand into the economy - KEYNES
Outline the different interpretations of Social Justice
(Classical) Social Darwinism - The theory of natural selection to develop the social principle of 'survival of the fittest'. Inequalities of wealth, social position and political power are natural and inevitable, and no attempt should be made by the government to interfere - SPENCER
(Modern) Social Welfarism - Defended on the basis of equality of opportunity, such as the right to work, the right to education and decent housing. Welfare rights are positive rights because they can only be achieved by positive actions of government - BEVERIDGE