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phil330burkequestions - Poli 300 Burke Questions Summarized...

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Poli 300 9/15/09 - 9/17/09 Burke Questions Summarized questions 1. The principles assume that the status quo always has some prima facie value. What is best in the status quo should always be conserved. Recognize at times that the status quo needs to be adjusted at times, possibly due to the social or economical environment. How does one know what is worth conserving and what needs to be corrected: Burke – You draw on the basic values of the society, if there has been changes that threaten the fundamental values then you adjust to protect those values 2. Principles are always general and usually abstract, so they have limited value and must be interpreted before they are applied. To know when to implement them you must look at the circumstances and you must have and understanding of those principles. Believes they only people who can be relied on to understand the circumstances and the principles are the prudent. Believes that in a highly unstable anarchic society you cannot draw or adopt any traditional principles. 3. Three answers. I: The foundations are key to the maintenance of social unity and stability. Build on them instead of changing them or knocking them down. By building on them you maintain order but are still able to implement changes. II: There is wisdom or value in the old foundations; if they have been around for a long time then they have been somewhat beneficial. III: If we try to build a new and complete social order we will hit the limits of human reason. It presupposes wisdom that people do not have, people cannot build societies. It is beyond the mental capacity and power of a human being How old must the foundations be to be considered valuable? 4. Skipped 5. There is no workable or useful theory around that allows human beings to create new societies. 6. Prudence means practical wisdom or being particularly able to make decisions of a practical kind. E.g. what kind of laws should we have?
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-> The “first of all virtues”, says Burke on p. 54 is “prudence.” What is prudence? Prudence refers to a capacity for making really good practical judgments a good leader should be prudent Judgments about particular things are always practical. They are often difficult. A prudent leader however, knows how to make the best decisions, regardless of how difficult they are. What is it that allows some to be prudent and some not? 1. Long and broad experience provides us the basis for understanding and acting within the world. Ex: young people cannot be prudent because they lack experience. 2. Personality traits. The necessary ones vary from Burke, Aristotle etc. However, they all agree on some traits that are needed for prudent politics including: a. Foresight (into future problems) b. Courage (to stand up and do what is right / moral courage) c. Perseverance d. Memory (you need to be able to rely on past experiences) e. Caution (Machiavelli would disagree saying that boldness is important). 3.
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phil330burkequestions - Poli 300 Burke Questions Summarized...

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