Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.
Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy. Within political science, a strong focus has historically been placed on the role of political philosophy (also known as normative theory), moral philosophy and the humanities, although in recent years there has been increased focus to political theory based on quantitative methodological approaches as well as economic theory, the natural sciences and behaviouralism.
Indian political philosophy in ancient times demarcated a clear distinction between (1) nation and state (2) religion and state. The constitutions of Hindu states evolved over time and were based on political and legal treatises and prevalent social institutions. The institutions of state were broadly divided into governance, administration, defense, law and order. Mantranga, the principal governing body of these states, consisted of the King, Prime Minister, Commander in chief of army, Chief Priest of the King. The Prime Minister headed the committee of ministers along with head of executive (Maha Amatya).
Chanakya was a 4th-century BC Indian political philosopher. The Arthashastra provides an account of the science of politics for a wise ruler, policies for foreign affairs and wars, the system of a spy state and surveillance and economic stability of the state. Chanakya quotes several authorities including Bruhaspati, Ushanas, Prachetasa Manu, Parasara, and Ambi, and described himself as a descendant of a lineage of political philosophers, with his father Chanaka being his immediate predecessor. Another influential extant Indian treatise on political philosophy is the Sukra Neeti. An example of a code of law in ancient India is the Manusmṛti or Laws of Manu.
Chinese political philosophy dates back to the Spring and Autumn period, specifically with Confucius in the 6th century BC. Chinese political philosophy was developed as a response to the social and political breakdown of the country characteristic of the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. The major philosophies during the period, Confucianism, Legalism, Mohism, Agrarianism and Taoism, each had a political aspect to their philosophical schools. Philosophers such as Confucius, Mencius, and Mozi, focused on political unity and political stability as the basis of their political philosophies. Confucianism advocated a hierarchical, meritocratic government based on empathy, loyalty, and interpersonal relationships. Legalism advocated a highly authoritarian government based on draconian punishments and laws. Mohism advocated a communal, decentralized government centered on frugality and ascetism. The Agrarians advocated a peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. Taoism advocated a proto-anarchism. Legalism was the dominant political philosophy of the Qin Dynasty, but was replaced by State Confucianism in the Han Dynasty. Prior to China's adoption of communism, State Confucianism remained the dominant political philosophy of China up to the 20th century.
Western political philosophy originates in the philosophy of ancient Greece, where political philosophy dates back to at least Plato. Ancient Greece was dominated by city-states, which experimented with various forms of political organization, grouped by Plato into five categories of descending stability and morality: monarchy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. One of the first, extremely important classical works of political philosophy is Plato's Republic, which was followed by Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics. Roman political philosophy was influenced by the Stoics and the Roman statesman Cicero.
The early Christian philosophy of Augustine of Hippo was heavily influenced by Plato. A key change brought about by Christian thought was the moderation of the Stoicism and theory of justice of the Roman world, as well emphasis on the role of the state in applying mercy as a moral example. Augustine also preached that one was not a member of his or her city, but was either a citizen of the City of God (Civitas Dei) or the City of Man (Civitas Terrena). Augustine's City of God is an influential work of this period that attacked the thesis, held by many Christian Romans, that the Christian view could be realized on Earth.
Aquinas never discusses the nature or categorization of canon law. There is scholarly debate surrounding the place of canon law within the Thomistic jurisprudential framework.
Aquinas was an incredibly influential thinker in the Natural Law tradition.
The rise of Islam, based on both the Qur'an and Muhammad strongly altered the power balances and perceptions of origin of power in the Mediterranean region. Early Islamic philosophy emphasized an inexorable link between science and religion, and the process of ijtihad to find truth—in effect all philosophy was "political" as it had real implications for governance. This view was challenged by the "rationalist" Mutazilite philosophers, who held a more Hellenic view, reason above revelation, and as such are known to modern scholars as the first speculative theologians of Islam; they were supported by a secular aristocracy who sought freedom of action independent of the Caliphate. By the late ancient period, however, the "traditionalist" Asharite view of Islam had in general triumphed. According to the Asharites, reason must be subordinate to the Quran and the Sunna.
Islamic political philosophy, was, indeed, rooted in the very sources of Islam—i.e., the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the words and practices of Muhammad—thus making it essentially theocratic. However, in the Western thought, it is generally supposed that it was a specific area peculiar merely to the great philosophers of Islam: al-Kindi (Alkindus), al-Farabi (Abunaser), İbn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Bajjah (Avempace) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes). The political conceptions of Islam such as kudrah (power), sultan, ummah, cemaa (obligation)-and even the "core" terms of the Qur'an—i.e., ibadah (worship), din (religion), rab (master) and ilah (deity)—is taken as the basis of an analysis. Hence, not only the ideas of the Muslim political philosophers but also many other jurists and ulama posed political ideas and theories. For example, the ideas of the Khawarij in the very early years of Islamic history on Khilafa and Ummah, or that of Shia Islam on the concept of Imamah are considered proofs of political thought. The clashes between the Ehl-i Sunna and Shia in the 7th and 8th centuries had a genuine political character. Political thought was not purely rooted in theism, however. Aristotleanism flourished as the Islamic Golden Age saw rise to a continuation of the peripaetic philosophers who implemented the ideas of Aristotle in the context of the Islamic world. Abunaser, Avicenna and Ibn Rushd where part of this philosophical school who claimed that human reason surpassed mere coincidence and revelation. They believed, for example, that natural phenomena occurs because of certain rules (made by god), not because god interfered directly (unlike Al-Ghazali and his followers).
Other notable political philosophers of the time include Nizam al-Mulk, a Persian scholar and vizier of the Seljuq Empire who composed the Siyasatnama, or the "Book of Government" in English. In it, he details the role of the state in terms of political affairs (i.e. how to deal with political opponents without ruining the government's image), as well as its duty to protect the poor and reward the worthy. In his other work, he explains how the state should deal with other issues such as supplying jobs to immigrants like the Turkmens who were coming from the north (present day southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).
The 14th-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun is considered one of the greatest political theorists. The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government, "...an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself," the best in the history of political theory. For Ibn Khaldun, government should be restrained to a minimum for as a necessary evil, it is the constraint of men by other men.
Medieval political philosophy in Europe was heavily influenced by Christian thinking. It had much in common with the Mutazilite Islamic thinking in that the Roman Catholics thought subordinating philosophy to theology did not subject reason to revelation but in the case of contradictions, subordinated reason to faith as the Asharite of Islam. The Scholastics by combining the philosophy of Aristotle with the Christianity of St. Augustine emphasized the potential harmony inherent in reason and revelation. Perhaps the most influential political philosopher of medieval Europe was St. Thomas Aquinas who helped reintroduce Aristotle's works, which had only been transmitted to Catholic Europe through Muslim Spain, along with the commentaries of Averroes. Aquinas's use of them set the agenda, for scholastic political philosophy dominated European thought for centuries even unto the Renaissance.
Some medieval political philosophers, such as Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, developed the idea that a king who is a tyrant is no king at all and could be overthrown. Others, like Nicole Oresme in his Livre de Politiques, categorically denied this right to overthrow an unjust ruler.
The Magna Carta, viewed by many as a cornerstone of Anglo-American political liberty, explicitly proposes the right to revolt against the ruler for justice's sake. Other documents similar to Magna Carta are found in other European countries such as Spain and Hungary.
During the Renaissance secular political philosophy began to emerge after about a century of theological political thought in Europe. While the Middle Ages did see secular politics in practice under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire, the academic field was wholly scholastic and therefore Christian in nature.
One of the most influential works during this burgeoning period was Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince, written between 1511–12 and published in 1532, after Machiavelli's death. That work, as well as The Discourses, a rigorous analysis of the classical period, did much to influence modern political thought in the West. A minority (including Jean-Jacques Rousseau) interpreted The Prince as a satire meant to be given to the Medici after their recapture of Florence and their subsequent expulsion of Machiavelli from Florence. Though the work was written for the di Medici family in order to perhaps influence them to free him from exile, Machiavelli supported the Republic of Florence rather than the oligarchy of the di Medici family. At any rate, Machiavelli presents a pragmatic and somewhat consequentialist view of politics, whereby good and evil are mere means used to bring about an end—i.e., the acquisition and maintenance of absolute power. Thomas Hobbes, well known for his theory of the social contract, goes on to expand this view at the start of the 17th century during the English Renaissance. Although neither Machiavelli nor Hobbes believed in the divine right of kings, they both believed in the inherent selfishness of the individual. It was necessarily this belief that led them to adopt a strong central power as the only means of preventing the disintegration of the social order.
During the Enlightenment period, new theories emerged about what the human was and is and about the definition of reality and the way it was perceived, along with the discovery of other societies in the Americas, and the changing needs of political societies (especially in the wake of the English Civil War, the American Revolution, the French Revolution), and the Haitian Revolution. These new theories led to new questions and insights by such thinkers as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Montesquieu and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
These theorists were driven by two basic questions: one, by what right or need do people form states; and two, what the best form for a state could be. These fundamental questions involved a conceptual distinction between the concepts of "state" and "government." It was decided that "state" would refer to a set of enduring institutions through which power would be distributed and its use justified. The term "government" would refer to a specific group of people who occupied the institutions of the state, and create the laws and ordinances by which the people, themselves included, would be bound. This conceptual distinction continues to operate in political science, although some political scientists, philosophers, historians and cultural anthropologists have argued that most political action in any given society occurs outside of its state, and that there are societies that are not organized into states that nevertheless must be considered in political terms. As long as the concept of natural order was not introduced, the social sciences could not evolve independently of theistic thinking. Since the cultural revolution of the 17th century in England, which spread to France and the rest of Europe, society has been considered subject to natural laws akin to the physical world.
Political and economic relations were drastically influenced by these theories as the concept of the guild was subordinated to the theory of free trade, and Roman Catholic dominance of theology was increasingly challenged by Protestant churches subordinate to each nation-state, which also (in a fashion the Roman Catholic Church often decried angrily) preached in the vulgar or native language of each region. However, the enlightenment was an outright attack on religion, particularly Christianity. The most outspoken critic of the church in France was François Marie Arouet de Voltaire, a representative figure of the enlightenment. After Voltaire, religion would never be the same again in France.
In the Ottoman Empire, these ideological reforms did not take place and these views did not integrate into common thought until much later. As well, there was no spread of this doctrine within the New World and the advanced civilizations of the Aztec, Maya, Inca, Mohican, Delaware, Huron and especially the Iroquois. The Iroquois philosophy in particular gave much to Christian thought of the time and in many cases actually inspired some of the institutions adopted in the United States: for example, Benjamin Franklin was a great admirer of some of the methods of the Iroquois Confederacy, and much of early American literature emphasized the political philosophy of the natives.
John Locke in particular exemplified this new age of political theory with his work Two Treatises of Government. In it Locke proposes a state of nature theory that directly complements his conception of how political development occurs and how it can be founded through contractual obligation. Locke stood to refute Sir Robert Filmer's paternally founded political theory in favor of a natural system based on nature in a particular given system. The theory of the divine right of kings became a passing fancy, exposed to the type of ridicule with which John Locke treated it. Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes but like Aquinas, Locke would accept Aristotle's dictum that man seeks to be happy in a state of social harmony as a social animal. Unlike Aquinas's preponderant view on the salvation of the soul from original sin, Locke believes man's mind comes into this world as tabula rasa. For Locke, knowledge is neither innate, revealed nor based on authority but subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance and moderation. According to Locke, an absolute ruler as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural law is based on reason and seeking peace and survival for man.
The Marxist critique of capitalism—developed with Friedrich Engels—was, alongside liberalism and fascism, one of the defining ideological movements of the twentieth century. The industrial revolution produced a parallel revolution in political thought. Urbanization and capitalism greatly reshaped society. During this same period, the socialist movement began to form. In the mid-19th century, Marxism was developed, and socialism in general gained increasing popular support, mostly from the urban working class. Without breaking entirely from the past, Marx established principles that would be used by future revolutionaries of the 20th century namely Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel Castro. Though Hegel's philosophy of history is similar to Immanuel Kant's, and Karl Marx's theory of revolution towards the common good is partly based on Kant's view of history—Marx declared that he was turning Hegel's dialectic, which was "standing on its head", "the right side up again". Unlike Marx who believed in historical materialism, Hegel believed in the Phenomenology of Spirit. By the late 19th century, socialism and trade unions were established members of the political landscape. In addition, the various branches of anarchism, with thinkers such as Mikhail Bakunin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon or Peter Kropotkin, and syndicalism also gained some prominence. In the Anglo-American world, anti-imperialism and pluralism began gaining currency at the turn of the 20th century.
World War I was a watershed event in human history, changing views of governments and politics. The Russian Revolution of 1917 (and similar, albeit less successful, revolutions in many other European countries) brought communism—and in particular the political theory of Leninism, but also on a smaller level Luxemburgism (gradually)—on the world stage. At the same time, social democratic parties won elections and formed governments for the first time, often as a result of the introduction of universal suffrage.
From the end of World War II until 1971, when John Rawls published A Theory of Justice, political philosophy declined in the Anglo-American academic world, as analytic philosophers expressed skepticism about the possibility that normative judgments had cognitive content, and political science turned toward statistical methods and behavioralism. In continental Europe, on the other hand, the postwar decades saw a huge blossoming of political philosophy, with Marxism dominating the field. This was the time of Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser, and the victories of Mao Zedong in China and Fidel Castro in Cuba, as well as the events of May 1968 led to increased interest in revolutionary ideology, especially by the New Left. A number of continental European émigrés to Britain and the United States—including Karl Popper, Friedrich Hayek, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, Eric Voegelin and Judith Shklar—encouraged continued study in political philosophy in the Anglo-American world, but in the 1950s and 1960s they and their students remained at odds with the analytic establishment.
Communism remained an important focus especially during the 1950s and 1960s. Colonialism and racism were important issues that arose. In general, there was a marked trend towards a pragmatic approach to political issues, rather than a philosophical one. Much academic debate regarded one or both of two pragmatic topics: how (or whether) to apply utilitarianism to problems of political policy, or how (or whether) to apply economic models (such as rational choice theory) to political issues. The rise of feminism, LGBT social movements and the end of colonial rule and of the political exclusion of such minorities as African Americans and sexual minorities in the developed world has led to feminist, postcolonial, and multicultural thought becoming significant. This led to a challenge to the social contract by philosophers Charles W. Mills in his book The Racial Contract and Carole Pateman in her book The Sexual Contract that the social contract excluded persons of colour and women respectively.
In Anglo-American academic political philosophy, the publication of John Rawls's A Theory of Justice in 1971 is considered a milestone. Rawls used a thought experiment, the original position, in which representative parties choose principles of justice for the basic structure of society from behind a veil of ignorance. Rawls also offered a criticism of utilitarian approaches to questions of political justice. Robert Nozick's 1974 book Anarchy, State, and Utopia, which won a National Book Award, responded to Rawls from a libertarian perspective and gained academic respectability for libertarian viewpoints.
Contemporaneously with the rise of analytic ethics in Anglo-American thought, in Europe several new lines of philosophy directed at critique of existing societies arose between the 1950s and 1980s. Most of these took elements of Marxist economic analysis, but combined them with a more cultural or ideological emphasis. Out of the Frankfurt School, thinkers like Herbert Marcuse, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Jürgen Habermas combined Marxian and Freudian perspectives. Along somewhat different lines, a number of other continental thinkers—still largely influenced by Marxism—put new emphases on structuralism and on a "return to Hegel". Within the (post-) structuralist line (though mostly not taking that label) are thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Claude Lefort, and Jean Baudrillard. The Situationists were more influenced by Hegel; Guy Debord, in particular, moved a Marxist analysis of commodity fetishism to the realm of consumption, and looked at the relation between consumerism and dominant ideology formation.
Another debate developed around the (distinct) criticisms of liberal political theory made by Michael Walzer, Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor. The liberal-communitarian debate is often considered valuable for generating a new set of philosophical problems, rather than a profound and illuminating clash of perspective.These and other communitarians (such as Alasdair MacIntyre and Daniel A. Bell) argue that, contra liberalism, communities are prior to individuals and therefore should be the center of political focus. Communitarians tend to support greater local control as well as economic and social policies which encourage the growth of social capital.
A pair of overlapping political perspectives arising toward the end of the 20th century are republicanism (or neo- or civic-republicanism) and the capability approach. The resurgent republican movement aims to provide an alternate definition of liberty from Isaiah Berlin's positive and negative forms of liberty, namely "liberty as non-domination." Unlike the American liberal movement which understands liberty as "non-interference," "non-domination" entails individuals not being subject to the arbitrary will of any other person. To a liberal, a slave who is not interfered with may be free, yet to a republican the mere status as a slave, regardless of how that slave is treated, is objectionable. Prominent republicans include historian Quentin Skinner, jurist Cass Sunstein, and political philosopher Philip Pettit. The capability approach, pioneered by economists Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen and further developed by legal scholar Martha Nussbaum, understands freedom under allied lines: the real-world ability to act. Both the capability approach and republicanism treat choice as something which must be resourced. In other words, it is not enough to be legally able to do something, but to have the real option of doing it.
Current emphasis on "commoditization of the everyday" has been decried by many contemporary theorists, some of them arguing the full brunt of it would be felt in ten years' time. "Pricing" such ethical categories like personal relations or sex, though always present, pushed by media agenda, is thus seen as crossing boundaries and having adverse societal and philosophical consequences.
A prominent subject in recent political philosophy is the theory of deliberative democracy. The seminal work was done by Jurgen Habermas in Germany, but the most extensive literature has been in English, led by theorists such as Jane Mansbridge, Joshua Cohen, Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson.
A larger list of political philosophers is intended to be closer to exhaustive. Listed below are some of the most canonical or important thinkers, and especially philosophers whose central focus was in political philosophy and/or who are good representatives of a particular school of thought.
The importance of a scientific study of Confucian political philosophy could hardly be overstated.
... Western philosophical tradition can be traced back as early as Plato (427–347 BC).
To understand and assess Aristotle's contributions to political thought ...
His most lasting political contribution is in his work on political philosophy.
In political philosophy, St. Augustine was a follower of Plato ...
By the ninth and tenth centuries...
Ibn Khaldun's definition of government probably remains the best: ...
...the Medieval Scholastics revived the concept of natural law.
There was, however, at least one department of thought ...
The two starting points of most medieval discussions ...
...we witness the growth of political absolutism ...
Economic theory as political philosophy: the example of the French Enlightenment
... there emerged groups of freethinkers intent on grounding knowledge on the exercise of critical reason, as opposed to ... established religion ...
... the three-tier system of federalism ... is an inheritance of Iroquois inspiration
Some of his texts, especially the Communist Manifesto made him seem like a sort of communist Descartes ...
The pressing need for universal suffrage ...
Ambedkarism is a body of ideas inspired by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. His philosophy has been used in India as a basis for political campaigning. His philosophy was using socio-politics as a tool to achieve the end result that is social justice and social equality. Someone who practices Ambedkarism is an Ambedkarite.Authority
Authority is the right to exercise power, which can be formalized by a state and exercised by way of judges, appointed executives of government, or the ecclesiastical or priestly appointed representatives of a God or other deities.
A governing body may be labelled an authority e.g. the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority or the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Authority can also mean the right to complete an action or execute an order.
In government, authority is often used interchangeably with power. However, their meanings differ: while power is the ability to order or accomplish a goal or to influence others, authority refers to a claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise that power. For example, while a mob may have the power to punish a criminal by beating or lynching, the rule of law indicates that only a court of law has the authority to determine and refer a criminal for punishment. In this sense, authority is a matter of not only the ability or power to make decisions, but the right to make these decisions and execute them with commensurate power. Appropriate authority is the basis of good government in the republican conception of government, which finds much of its theoretical origins in ancient Rome.Communalism
Communalism usually refers to a system that integrates communal ownership and federations of highly localized independent communities. A prominent libertarian socialist, Murray Bookchin, defines the communalism political philosophy that he developed as "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation", as well as "the principles and practice of communal ownership". The term 'government' in this case does not imply an acceptance of a state or top-down hierarchy.This usage of communalism appears to have emerged during the late 20th century to distinguish commune-based systems from other political movements and/or governments espousing (if not actually practicing) similar ideas. In particular, earlier communities and movements advocating such practices were often described as "anarchist", "socialist" and/or "communist".Many historical communities practicing utopian socialism or anarcho-communism did implement internal rules of communalist property ownership in the context of federated communalism. It is at least theoretically possible for a federation of communes to include communes which do not practice communalist rules of property, which is to say, that the overall national government may be a federation of communes, but that private property rather than communalist property is the order within each such commune. Karl Marx, often viewed as the founder of modern communism, criticized older forms, including primitive communism and/or utopian socialism, as poorly conceived and/or prone to disintegration in practice.Communalism in the form described above is distinct from the predominant usage in South Asian forms of English: allegiance to a particular ethnic and/or religious group rather than to a broader society. As such, this usage is synonymous with sectarianism and associated with communal violence.Defeatism
Defeatism is the acceptance of defeat without struggle, often with negative connotations. It can be linked to pessimism in psychology.Feminist political theory
Feminist political theory is a diverse subfield of feminist theory working towards three main goals:
To understand and critique the role of gender in how political theory is conventionally construed.
To re-frame and re-articulate conventional political theory in light of feminist issues (especially gender equality).
To support political science presuming and pursuing gender equality.Feminist political theory encompasses a broad scope of approaches. It overlaps with related areas including feminist jurisprudence/feminist legal theory; feminist political philosophy; female-centered empirical research in political science; and feminist research methods (feminist method) for use in political science the social sciences. Indeed, one scholar notes that, insofar as almost all versions of feminism involve "demonstrating the ways in which politics, understood as power relations, is present in our everyday lives," one could reasonably "describe feminist theory as a whole as a kind of political philosophy." What frequently distinguishes feminist political theory from feminism broadly is the specific examination of the state and its role in the reproduction or redressing of gender inequality. In addition to being broad and multidisciplinary, the field is relatively new, inherently innovative, and still expanding; the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains that "feminist political philosophy serves as a field for developing new ideals, practices, and justifications for how political institutions and practices should be organized and reconstructed."Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian democracy, named after its advocate Thomas Jefferson, was one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party (formally named the "Republican Party"), which Jefferson founded in opposition to the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton. The Jeffersonians were deeply committed to American republicanism, which meant opposition to what they considered to be artificial aristocracy, opposition to corruption, and insistence on virtue, with a priority for the "yeoman farmer", "planters", and the "plain folk".They were antagonistic to the aristocratic elitism of merchants, bankers, and manufacturers, distrusted factory workers, and were on the watch for supporters of the dreaded British system of government. Jeffersonian democracy persisted as an element of the Democratic Party into the early 20th century, as exemplified by the rise of Jacksonian democracy and the three presidential candidacies of William Jennings Bryan. Its themes continue to echo in the 21st century, particularly among the Libertarian and Republican parties.At the beginning of the Jeffersonian era, only two states (Vermont and Kentucky) had established universal white male suffrage by abolishing property requirements. By the end of the period, more than half of the states had followed suit, including virtually all of the states in the Old Northwest. States then also moved on to allowing popular votes for presidential elections, canvassing voters in a more modern style. Jefferson's party, known today as the Democratic-Republican Party, was then in full control of the apparatus of government—from the state legislature and city hall to the White House.John Hospers
John Hospers (June 9, 1918 – June 12, 2011) was an American philosopher and political activist. Hospers was interested in Objectivism, and was once a friend of Ayn Rand, though she later broke with him. In 1972 Hospers became the first presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and was the only minor party candidate to receive an electoral vote in that year's U.S. presidential election.Leo Strauss
Leo Strauss (; German: [ˈleːo ˈʃtʁaʊs]; September 20, 1899 – October 18, 1973) was a German-American political philosopher and classicist who specialized in classical political philosophy. He was born in Germany to Jewish parents and later emigrated from Germany to the United States. He spent much of his career as a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he taught several generations of students and published fifteen books.Trained in the neo-Kantian tradition with Ernst Cassirer and immersed in the work of the phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, Strauss later focused his research on the Greek texts of Plato and Aristotle, retracing their interpretation through medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophy and encouraging the application of those ideas to contemporary political theory.Localism (politics)
Localism describes a range of political philosophies which prioritize the local. Generally, localism supports local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and promotion of local history, local culture and local identity. Localism can be contrasted with regionalism and centralized government, with its opposite being found in the unitary state.
Localism can also refer to a systematic approach to organizing a national government so that local autonomy is retained rather than following the usual pattern of government and political power becoming centralized over time.
On a conceptual level, there are important affinities between localism and deliberative democracy. This concerns mainly the democratic goal of engaging citizens in decisions that affect them. Consequently, localism will encourage stronger democratic and political participatory forums and widening public sphere connectivity.Oligarchy
Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning 'few', and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning 'to rule or to command') is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious, political, or military control. Such states are often controlled by families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.
Throughout history, oligarchies have often been tyrannical, relying on public obedience or oppression to exist. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as meaning rule by the rich, for which another term commonly used today is plutocracy.
In the early 20th century Robert Michels developed the theory that democracies, as all large organizations, have a tendency to turn into oligarchies. In his "Iron law of oligarchy" he suggests that the necessary division of labor in large organizations leads to the establishment of a ruling class mostly concerned with protecting their own power.
This was already recognized by the Athenians in the fourth century BCE: After the restoration of democracy from oligarchical coups, they used the drawing of lots for selecting government officers to counteract that tendency toward oligarchy in government. They drew lots from large groups of adult volunteers to pick civil servants performing judicial, executive, and administrative functions (archai, boulē, and hēliastai). They even used lots for posts, such as judges and jurors in the political courts (nomothetai), which had the power to overrule the Assembly.Philosopher king
According to Plato, a philosopher king is a ruler who possesses both a love of knowledge, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life. Such are the rulers of his utopian city Kallipolis. For such a community to ever come into being, "philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize" (The Republic, 5.473d).Pluralism (political philosophy)
Pluralism as a political philosophy is the recognition and affirmation of diversity within a political body, which permits the peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions, and lifestyles. While not all political pluralists advocate for a pluralist democracy, this is most common as democracy is often viewed as the most fair and effective way to moderate between the discrete values.As put by arch-pluralist Isaiah Berlin, "let us have the courage of our admitted ignorance, of our doubts and uncertainties. At least we can try to discover what others [...] require, by [...] making it possible for ourselves to know men as they truly are, by listening to them carefully and sympathetically, and understanding them and their lives and their needs... ." Pluralism thus tries to encourage members of society to accommodate their differences by avoiding extremism (adhering solely to one value, or at the very least refusing to recognize others as legitimate) and engaging in good faith dialogue. Pluralists also seek the construction or reform of social institutions in order to reflect and balance competing principles. One of the more famous arguments for institutional pluralism came from James Madison in The Federalist paper number 10. Madison feared that factionalism would lead to in-fighting in the new American republic and devotes this paper to questioning how best to avoid such an occurrence. He posits that to avoid factionalism, it is best to allow many competing factions (advocating different primary principles) to prevent any one from dominating the political system. This relies, to a degree, on a series of disturbances changing the influences of groups so as to avoid institutional dominance and ensure competition. Like Edmund Burke, this view concerns itself with balance, and subordinating any single abstract principle to a plurality or realistic harmony of interests.
Pluralism recognizes that certain conditions may make good faith negotiation impossible, and therefore also focuses on what institutional structures can best modify or prevent such a situation. Pluralism advocates institutional design in keeping with a form of pragmatic realism here, with the preliminary adoption of suitable existing socio-historical structures where necessary.Plutocracy
A plutocracy (Greek: πλοῦτος, ploutos, 'wealth' + κράτος, kratos, 'power') or plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income. The first known use of the term in English dates from 1631. Unlike systems such as democracy, capitalism, socialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense.Political radicalism
The term political radicalism (in political science known as radicalism) denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary or other means and changing value systems in fundamental ways.
Derived from the Latin radix ("root"), the denotation of radical has changed since its eighteenth-century coinage to comprehend the entire political spectrum—yet it retains the "change at the root" connotation fundamental to revolutionary societal change. Historically, radicalism has referred exclusively to the radical left (under the single category of far-left politics) and rarely incorporating far-right politics—though these may have revolutionary elements. The prominent exception is in the United States, where some consider radicalism to include both political extremes of the radical left and the radical right. In traditional labels of the spectrum of political thought, the opposite of radical – on the "right" of the political spectrum – is termed "reactionary".
The nineteenth-century Cyclopaedia of Political Science (1881, 1889) reports that "radicalism is characterized less by its principles than by the manner of their application". Conservatives often used the term "radical" pejoratively whereas contemporary left radicals used the term "conservative" derogatorily, thus contemporary denotations of "radical", "radicalism" and "political radicalism" comprise far-left (hard left, radical left) and far-right (hard right, radical right).The Encyclopædia Britannica records the first political usage of "radical" as ascribed to the British Whig Party parliamentarian Charles James Fox, who in 1797 proposed a "radical reform" of the electoral system, franchise to provide universal manhood suffrage, thereby idiomatically establishing "radical" to denote supporters of the reformation of the British Parliament. Throughout the nineteenth century, the term was combined with political notions and doctrines, thus producing the concepts of working class radicalism, middle class-, philosophic-, democratic- bourgeois-, Tory- and plebeian radicalism. In the event, politically influential radical leaders give rise to their own trend of political radicalism (see Spencean radicalism and Carlilean radicalism). Philosophically, the French political scientist Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) is the principal theoretician proposing "political radicalism" as feasible in republican political philosophy, viz the French Revolution (1789–1799) and other modern revolutions—the antithesis to the liberalism of John Locke (1632–1704).Politics (Aristotle)
Politics (Greek: Πολιτικά, Politiká) is a work of political philosophy by Aristotle, a 4th-century BC Greek philosopher.
The end of the Nicomachean Ethics declared that the inquiry into ethics necessarily follows into politics, and the two works are frequently considered to be parts of a larger treatise, or perhaps connected lectures, dealing with the "philosophy of human affairs". The title of the Politics literally means "the things concerning the polis".Secularism
Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations." In different contexts the word can refer to anticlericalism, atheism, desire to exclude religion from social activities or civic affairs, banishment of religious symbols from the public sphere, state neutrality toward religion, the separation of religion from state, or disestablishment (separation of church and state).As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life on principles taken solely from the material world, without recourse to religion. In political terms, secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries (the attainment of such is termed secularity). Under a brief definition, secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people. One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs or practices.Secularism draws its intellectual roots from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Zeno of Citium and Marcus Aurelius; from Enlightenment thinkers such as Erasmus, John Locke, Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Baruch Spinoza, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine; and from more recent freethinkers and atheists such as Robert Ingersoll, Bertrand Russell, and Christopher Hitchens. It shifts the focus from religion to other ‘temporal’ and ‘this-worldly’ things with emphasis on nature, reason, science, and development.The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely. In European laicism, it has been argued that secularism is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values (also known as secularization). This type of secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has often occurred while maintaining an official state church or other state support of religion. In the United States, some argue that state secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion and the religious from governmental interference, while secularism on a social level is less prevalent.On the other hand, Meiji era Japan maintained that it was secular and allowed freedom of religion despite enforcing State Shinto and continuing to prohibit certain "superstitions;" scholar of religion Jason Ānanda Josephson has labelled this conception of the secular "the Shinto Secular" and noted that it follows a pattern established in certain European constitutions.Subjectivity
Subjectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to consciousness, agency, personhood, reality, and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Three common definitions include that subjectivity is the quality or condition of:
Something being a subject, narrowly meaning an individual who possesses conscious experiences, such as perspectives, feelings, beliefs, and desires.
Something being a subject, broadly meaning an entity that has agency, meaning that it acts upon or wields power over some other entity (an object).
Some information, idea, situation, or physical thing considered true only from the perspective of a subject or subjects.These various definitions of subjectivity are sometimes joined together in philosophy. The term is most commonly used as an explanation for that which influences, informs, and biases people's judgments about truth or reality; it is the collection of the perceptions, experiences, expectations, personal or cultural understanding, and beliefs specific to a person.
Subjectivity is contrasted to the philosophy of objectivity, which is described as a view of truth or reality that is free of any individual's biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings.Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes (; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679), in some older texts Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book Leviathan, which expounded an influential formulation of social contract theory. In addition to political philosophy, Hobbes also contributed to a diverse array of other fields, including history, jurisprudence, geometry, the physics of gases, theology, ethics, and general philosophy.
Social and political philosophy