lecture2 - LECTURE NOTES UCLA PS 40 Department of Political...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–4. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
1 LECTURE NOTES UCLA Department of Political Science Fall 2007 PS 40 Introduction to American Politics Prof. Thomas Schwartz Hunk 2 Political Theory There are two kinds of political theory. Normative theory examines how to justify or evaluate political institutions and policies (e.g., What kind of government should we have?). Positive theory seeks to explain and predict political behavior, policies, and institutions (e.g., Why do we have the kind of government that we do?). In this class we are concerned more with positive theory, with explanation. The distinction is not razor sharp. Sometimes one “rationale” is a plausible justification and explanation of an institution, practice, or policy. Example: Most of us prefer protection from theft to the chance to steal, and that plausibly justifies and explains why we have laws against theft. Why have government? One can approach this question either normatively or positively. One can ask why do we have it or why should we have it. Plato, in The Republic , briefly entertains two answers. The book shows Socrates conversing with other characters about justice, and the two answers come from two of those characters. 1. Thrasymachus contends that justice is simply the will of the stronger , hence that there is no transcendent standard of justice. The underlying assumption is that governments are put in place to serve the interests of the rulers - - who are few compared with their subjects.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
2 2. The second answer, offered by Glaucon, is that government helps people achieve mutual security by protecting them from each other and also from foreign invaders: you are a net loser if you can prey on others but they in turn can prey on you, so you prefer protection from predators (murderers, rapists, thieves, frauds) to the chance to prey (to murder, rape, steal, defraud). More generally, government fosters mutual advantage , or cooperation . That both justifies government and explains its existence. This raises a problem: How can one benefit by being restrained from doing what one wants to do? The answer: Everyone is better off having his liberties restricted in order to be protected, provided everyone else has his liberties likewise restricted. This is a fundamental insight for studying politics. We may see this idea at work in an example, called the prisoner’s dilemma . Suppose Prof. Chalkdust suspects two students of cheating but cannot prove it without a confession. So he offers each the following deal: If both of you confess, then both of you will fail the course. If one of you confesses and other does not, then the one who confesses will get an A, while the other will be expelled. If neither of you confesses, then (sad to say) you will both get Bs. We can capture this game in the following matrix.
Background image of page 2
3 Player 2 (Lynn)
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 10

lecture2 - LECTURE NOTES UCLA PS 40 Department of Political...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 4. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online