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GOVT161 Essay 1_Essay

GOVT161 Essay 1_Essay - GOVT 161 A government is often...

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GOVT 161 4/22/08 A government is often legitimized by making the claim that it knows what is best for its subordinates. In this essay I will analyze the responses of three political theorists to the question when is one person justified in deciding the he knows better than a second person? Plato believes that each person is suited to do one thing and by doing that thing they are fulfilling their potential and leading a moral life. Plato would therefore argue that a person is justified in assessing what is best for another if and only if he is suited to do so; if it is his essence to do so. In his most famous work, The Republic, Plato describes three basic classes: The public, the auxiliary, the philosopher kings, each suited to its proper function. The largest class by far is the public. Each member of the public is made to farm, smith, or work in some other capacity. The auxiliary is comprised of soldiers who protect the community and serve as a tool of the third and final class, the philosopher kings. This class of people, which Plato entitles the “philosopher Kings,” is characterized by great wisdom and capacity for logical reasoning, attributes which are largely absent in the other two classes. Instead the masses are driven by appetite, needs and wants. Their more basic drives lead them to be self interested and myopic. Whereas, the philosopher kings transcend human desires and are in a better place to pass judgment or to make decisions which affect a great number of people. Furthermore, Plato believes that the philosopher kings have the ability not only to transcend their own biases but to transcend the empirical world itself. The philosopher king therefore has the power to observe the essential realm, where the average person is merely privy to that which he can see or otherwise detect with his five senses. Everything in the world, abstract or tangible, has a single essence, 1
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GOVT 161 4/22/08 which itself may be manifested in myriad ways. For example, a triangle can have infinite combinations of side lengths, colors, materials, levels of perfection, but there is only one essence of what a triangle is. Anyone can look at a triangle and tell you that it’s a
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