Pol Theory Term Paper

Pol Theory Term - Garrett 1 Mitch Garrett POLS 171 Topic 4 10 December 2010 Non-Fatal Blindness Jean Jacques Rousseau creates a very complex style

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Garrett 1 Mitch Garrett POLS 171 Topic 4 10 December 2010 Non-Fatal Blindness Jean Jacques Rousseau creates a very complex style of legitimacy. Throughout his work, The Social Contract, Rousseau emphasizes that legitimacy stems from the covenant made between men who choose to become part of a political society. This general will is to become the moral authority and source of legitimacy for all involved in society. However, throughout his argument, it is stated that the while the general will knows what is good for the public, it cannot always discern which actions should be taken. This statement raises the question of whether or not the blindness of the general will deals a fatal blow to the legitimacy of such a system. I will argue that while the general will is not a perfect system of legitimacy, its blindness does not render it invalid because of the first principle which the general will carries with it. These first principles which contribute to the moral decentness of the general will are many. First of all, people join a general will for some sort of positive, character relationship. Since the general will does not provide any explicit benefits to an individual, it would be unreasonable that someone would join political society for completely selfish means. Next, the general will tends toward equality and moderation. If each person is to submit themselves completely to the general will, they will either forcefully or inherently fall within some sort of common decency. Third, the general will is entitled to the same trial and error that a person is in their pursuit of human flourishing. Finally, particular wills exist just enough to lessen the immoral actions which the general will can perform. While objections to each of these principles
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Garrett 2 exist and have valid reasoning, Rousseau provides just enough evidence that the general will can overcome adversity and maintain its legitimacy, although maybe not perfectly. In Book I, Chapter 6, Rousseau goes in depth as to why a man would join political society. Among the very first reasons why a man would join a political society is to create a combination of powers strong enough so that nothing can overcome them. To do this, one must completely give himself to the compact and in return recovers only what he has given, but with more power to maintain it. In this sense, Plato and Aristotle may argue that man has engaged in a utility friendship and not a character relationship because not only is he not wise enough to seek flourishing, but he is seeking the advantages of another man to achieve a certain end (Ethics Book 8). I must refute their claim by stating that by engaging in the social contract, one does not gain the means to be selfish. The very nature of the social contract allows it to be dissolved as soon as a man uses the contract for his own means thereby violating the general will. Additionally, man who engages in the social contract only explicitly gains what he has already
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This note was uploaded on 05/02/2011 for the course POLS 171 taught by Professor Groff during the Fall '10 term at Saint Louis.

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Pol Theory Term - Garrett 1 Mitch Garrett POLS 171 Topic 4 10 December 2010 Non-Fatal Blindness Jean Jacques Rousseau creates a very complex style

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