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Exam 1 Comp Notes

Exam 1 Comp Notes - POLS 206-508 R Introduction to...

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POLS 206-508 R 8/30/07 Introduction to Government I. What is Government? II. What do Governments do? III. Limited Government/Liberalism Introduction to Government I. What is Government? Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) wrote Leviathan in 1651 during English civil war—if you don’t have government, every man will be enemy to every man; a “state of nature”. It’s easy to be suspicious of government when it is stable. Rowanda = collapsed state; similar to state of nature, no trust w/o government Government : the institutions that make authoritative decisions for any given society (could apply to any government) To govern means “to control”. Believed that you gave up EVERYTHING for government (all rights) II. What do Governments do? A. The oldest task: maintain order—protect life and property. Governments must have some sort of force to do this (laws) Governments use their coercive power Ex: make us follow trafficking laws by putting cops out on streets Can range from College Station to tanks running over protestors B. National Defense: keep boundaries secure Most governments have this C. Provide goods (services) Private goods: what you buy for you (ex-bottle of water, car) Public goods: government provided & shared between everyone; can’t exclude someone from using them (ex-roads, schools) D. Socialization Instill patriotism and provide knowledge of government (Ex: former Soviet Union, Nazi Germany) E. Taxes Governments need money to survive; all governments tax their people but not at the same rates III. Limited Government/Liberalism* Thomas Jefferson: in the US “that government is best that governs least” Belief that there are certain things governments should not be allowed to do Government SHOULD protect our individual liberties James Madison (1787): “you must first enable the government to control the governed, but oblige it to control itself” Classical sense of liberalism: liberal is someone who thinks that the government is created to protect your rights; liberals and conservatives are arguing over which rights are more important (speech more important than property?)
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A. Liberalism : the name of a certain kind of theory of government, one centering on the individual, and primarily concerned with protecting the individual’s rights through a social contract **cornerstone of US political system 1. Emphasis on individual 2. Protection of individual’s rights 3. Social contract a. Magna Carta (1215): King John forced to sign— earliest attempts to limit government’s power, a symbol of a social contract; predecessor of Constitutionalism b. John Locke (1632-1704): most influential liberal thinker Thinking starts in a “statue of nature” before government (like Hobbes) Doesn’t think government is as bad as Hobbes, just inconvenient —no one to decide right and wrong; people can’t be trusted with their own cases Everyone will decide it makes more sense to come together and form government, or social contract : giving up SOME rights to government in
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Exam 1 Comp Notes - POLS 206-508 R Introduction to...

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