SIide #1 - CHAPTER 1 The Logic of American Politics...

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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 1 The Logic of American Politics DISCUSSION PREVIEW I What is politics’.J I What is necessary to achieve the ends or goals of politics’.J I Government I Written charter [Constitution] I Enduring institutions I Collective action problems I Prisoner's dilemma I Coordination I Free-rider problem I Tragedy of the commons WHAT IS POLITICS? ARISTUTLE [384 - 322 B.c.] I All human actions aim at what is "held" to be good. - f/IePa/itics I Politics is the IImaster artII that seeks the highest good, in practice, for a people. - [lineman/lean Ethics I Politics gives rise to the laws and institutions that reflect our moral beliefs. THOMAS HUBBES [1588 - 1679] I In nature, man's life is IIsolitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.II I To avoid this chaos, it is necessary to impose upon the people an absolute and unquestionable government. I Consider Golding's lardaft/Ie Flies WHAT IS POLITICS? MONTESUUIEU [1689 - 1755] I Peace is the IIfirst law of nature,II not war. I Human beings possess common desires [peace]; common desires breed comity; comity leads to union; and the union of many results in society. AMERICA'S FOUNDERS [late 17005] I Human beings possess IInatural rights,II such as life, liberty, and property. I A constitution is a social contract [as opposed to brute force] between rulers and ruled. I Politics and institutions should be guided and preserved by a concern for public virtue and the common good. WHAT IS POLITICS? The byproducts of politics inevitably include bagaining and compromise. I Just because members of society aren't killing each other doesn't mean they agree about everything. I BARGAINING is the means by which individuals offer proposals and counterproposals in an attempt to reach a deal, or GUMPRUMISE. I However, a compromise often ends with both parties agreeing to sacrifice some of their preferences. For example: I The process of legislating is a never-ending exercise in bargaining and compromising. I Even the existence of government itself involves compromise. Liberty versus security. REALIZING THE GOALS 0F POLITICS In the case of America, the combination of a written constitution and a set of institutions result in our republican form of government. The U.S. Constitution serves two important purposes: I Describes the structure of our government. I Defines the limits of our government's powers. REALIZINO THE GOALS OF POLITICS Why do institutions matter? I They contain the offices of government. I These offices, and their officers, are granted legal authority to perform certain tasks. For example: I Congress is tasked with writing legislation and the executive branch has the authority to sign a bill into law. [Separation of Powers] I Once firmly established, the passage of time tends to leave institutions venerated in the minds of the people. I Long-established institutions offer us continuity and a degree of predictability. OOLLEOTIVE AOTION PROBLEMS Societies will forever be plagued by collective action problems. I The challenges that must be overcome in order for a GROUP to reach some sort of agreement. I For example, suppose that you and three friends all want to eat out at a restaurant; however, two members of the group are hungry for Mexican food, a third wants Chinese, and the fourth person could go for either Mexican or fast food. The only person with a vehicle is the one who wants Ohinese. What is the solution? The major collective action problems in political science are: I Coordination I Prisoner's dilemma I Free-rider problem I Tragedy of the commons COORDINATION coordination is essential to collective action, even after other collective action problems have been addressed. - What is the goal of the group? - E.g., how are competing preferences reconciled? - What are the responsibilities of the individuals within the group? Consider the modern Tea Party movement and the difficulties it has experienced while trying to present a unified face to the nation. THE PRISONER'S DILEMMA Fundamentally, the prisoner's dilemma is a problem of mutual trust versus self-interest. I PERFECT WORLD: mutual trust is unquestionable because there is no potential for betrayal. I REAL WORLD: people "look out for number one," i.e., they worry about themselves first. Without a guarantee that agreements will be honored, people more often than not make their decisions to their own advantage, even if their choices severely fiadvantage others. ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/18/2010 for the course POLS 1101 taught by Professor Cann during the Fall '08 term at University of Georgia Athens.

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SIide #1 - CHAPTER 1 The Logic of American Politics...

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