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Chapter 2 Summary

Chapter 2 Summary - Chapter 2 This chapter focuses on the...

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Chapter 2 This chapter focuses on the challenging subject of politics and choice to underscore in yet another way the intimate connection between values, facts, and judgment. Four cases are used to illustrate the dimensions of choice in politics: (1) Socrates’ choice not to flee Athens to avoid an unjust punishment; (2) James Madison’s choice of a new political theory to guide the American Constitution of 1787 and the federal republic it created; (3) the choice by German citizens (and key leaders) of Adolf Hitler in 1932 and 1933; and (4) President John F. Kennedy’s choice of a blockade to counter the Soviet Union’s placement of offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba in the fall of 1962. These case studies invite critical thinking about four important themes in politics: political obligation, political creativity, responsible exercise of freedom, and power politics in the nuclear age. The theme of political obligation is illuminated in the case of Socrates, who was executed in 399 B.C. by Athenian authorities because of his incessant criticisms of Athenian democracy. Despite being condemned to death, he was unwilling to abandon his city or his friends. Socrates was willing to die for his beliefs, and thus, he offers an example of a man of principle and of civic loyalty. As admirable as we might consider Socrates’ choice, his case raises some serious questions.
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