Political Philosophy Paper FINAL

Political Philosophy Paper FINAL - Stuart Cobb SOCS 1610...

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Stuart Cobb 11/19/07 SOCS 1610 Nancy Wadsworth Political Philosophy Paper #2 I was nervous, my hands were sweaty and my head was throbbing. Two months after I was interviewed about my political philosophy, my presence was requested again. This time however, my beliefs were going to be challenged by a panel of “experts.” As I walked down the hall my thoughts raced through my head. What would they ask me? How would I defend it? What would happen if they didn’t like my answers? The usher opened the door to the chamber and invited me inside. I gathered my thoughts and my pile of books: Political Thought edited by Michael Rosen and Jonathan Wolff, and Dogmas and Dreams edited by Nancy S. Love. The panel started at me right away. “Mr. Cobb, what do you believe is basic human nature?” Human nature is the backbone of political theory, through understanding human nature one can understand the basics of political theory. I believe that in determining what is human nature you have to ask three questions: is man naturally intelligent? Is man naturally equal? And, is man naturally good? I will begin with the first question. I believe that man is naturally an intelligent and autonomous being. That is, he has the ability to reason and therefore has free will in his decisions. My beliefs are in accordance with Montesquieu who said that man is “subject to ignorance and error” in his decisions. The being responsible for determining what is in mans best interest can only be man himself. Aristotle argued that people are born into the world naturally to become rulers or to be ruled because some people are 1
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better situated to determine what is best for themselves and other people. I would argue, however, that power emerges as a function of society. Society operates on the basis of practicality, and that it is more practical for a small group of people to make decisions that effect the large whole. While this may be true, it does not change the fact that man is naturally equipped to make decisions for himself. Political power is not an inherent institution of man; it was created out of a need to control and operate society. Although man is an autonomous being, it is his nature to want to enter into a social society. It is imperative for his survival that he does so. When man enters into society, he is implicitly entering onto the social contract that governs that society. His autonomy is compromised by the social contract, but it is for man’s best interest that he loses a piece of this autonomy. The second question regarding man’s equality requires a more complicated answer. Man is born with a unique set of skills and abilities that naturally give some a physical or mental advantage over others, in that some are more suited for tasks that require greater capacity in these areas.
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