Cumulative 2 - Cumulative 2 Deniz Comprehensive Question#2...

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Cumulative 2 – Deniz Comprehensive Question #2 The view that political theorists have about the most important goal in life has a profound effect on their views about (a) the role of the state, and (b) which type of state is best. Provide a discussion of the relationship between these views in the following thinkers: Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Machiavelli. Discuss which view of the good life you most strongly agree with. Thucydides: Thucydides has a realistic view of the nature and role of states. He believed that states should be self-interested. Justice and morality have no place in the state. In fact, Thucydides believes that a state should act in its self-interest and use cruelty as a method of increasing morality and justice. The use of cruelty in the short-term can avoid an increase in suffering in the long run. For example, at the Peace of Nicius during the Peloponnesian War both Athens and Sparta made concessions to the other side. In doing so, Athens allowed the Spartan war power to exist and gave Spartans the right to determine tribute money from Athenian colonies. In the short-term this agreement allowed peace, but in the long-run the Athenian power would crumble at the hands of the Spartans. Robert Kagan is the father of the surge idea. Thucydides would agree with his view. Kagan suggests that the reason why we haven’t succeeded in Iraq is because we’re using democracy as our weapon. It would have been more moral to increase the number of troops and therefore have prevented more suffering. A focus on self-interest can prevent cruelty based on moral reasons. Cleon was focused on morality and revenge when he wanted to kill all the Mytolenians. He is inflicting more suffering and ultimately doesn’t gain anything from it. Diodotus was self-interested and therefore wanted to spare the Mytolenians of cruelty. Thucydides is ambivalent about democracy. There are good and bad aspects of democracy. On the one hand, democracy is a creative and energetic from of government. If all citizens have a say, there are more opinions and perspectives brought to the table. Everyone would have something to offer and this can have economic, cultural, military benefits. On the other hand, Thucydides believes that democracy is also a very unstable form of government. Democracies are more likely to be invaded and often breakout in civil war. Thucydides argument is opposite of Thomas Payne who argues in his Democratic Peace Theory that democracies are less likely to go to war than other types of governments. Payne cites multiple reasons for this. First, democracies never go to war against other democracies. Second, in a democracy more than one person must declare war – in the U.S. case two-thirds of Congress must vote to authorize war – as opposed to a single monarch. Why does Thucydides dismiss democracy then? In class we discussed the role of
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Cumulative 2 - Cumulative 2 Deniz Comprehensive Question#2...

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