Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction – 笔记

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by the beginning of the 21st a new form of fatalism had appeared. This was inspired by the growth of a new global economy, and the belief that states had increasingly little room for manœuvre if they wanted their people to benefit from it. Any state that tried to buck the market would find that its economy slumped. And the only states that were likely to succeed in the new global competition were the liberal democracies,
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The example of Hobbes can help to explain why political philosophers have so rarely made a direct impact on political events. Because they look at politics from a philosophical perspective, they are bound to challenge many of the conventional beliefs held both by politicians and by the public at large. They put these beliefs under the microscope, asking exactly what people mean when they say such and such, what evidence they have for their convictions, how they would justify their beliefs if challenged to do so. One result of this forensic examination is that when political philosophers put forward their own ideas and proposals, these nearly always look strange and disturbing to those who are used to the conventional debate, as Hobbes’s ideas did to those fighting on both sides in the Civil War.
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cooperation between people is impossible in the absence of trust, and that trust will be lacking where there is no superior power to enforce the law.
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his real point is that in the climate of fear that would follow the breakdown of authority, the kinder, more trusting, side of human nature would be obliterated. And from what we know of human behaviour when people are caught up in civil war and other situations in which their very survival is at stake, he seems to have been right.
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The communitarian alternative to political authority takes face-to-face communities as the building blocks that make trust and cooperation between people possible. In a small community where people interact with one another on a daily basis and everyone knows who is a member and who isn’t, it is comparatively easy to maintain social order. Anybody who attacks another person, takes their possessions, or refuses to perform his fair share of the community’s work, faces some obvious penalties. As news of his behaviour spreads, other people will reprimand him and may refuse to work with him in future. At community meetings he will be denounced and he may even be asked to leave altogether. All this can happen without the malefactor being forced to do anything or being formally punished – that is why we can describe this as an alternative to political authority rather than a form of it. One of the most important human motives is a desire to be accepted and respected by those around you, and in the setting of a small community this makes cooperation possible even if people are not saints.
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More recently, some political philosophers have claimed that when we take part in elections, we agree to comply with the government that emerges and the laws it enacts.
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my obligation stems directly from the fact that I am the beneficiary of a practice that requires each person to contribute in turn.
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ordinary people are simply not competent to understand the issues that lie behind political decisions, and so they are happy to hand these decisions over to people they regard as better qualified to deal with them
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A political judgement about fox-hunting ought to consider not only the number of preferences on either side, but also the strength of those preferences. It does not seem right that a lukewarm majority should in all cases override a passionate minority.
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Rousseau thought that handing over political authority entirely to elected representatives was a pernicious modern practice:   The people of England deceive themselves when they fancy they are free; they are so, in fact, only during the election of members of parliament: for, as soon as a new one is elected, they are again in chains, and are nothing. And thus, by the use they make of their brief moments of liberty, they deserve to lose it.
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Although freedom of expression is important, not all expression should count for the same. It is very important that people should be able to worship freely, engage in political debate, express themselves artistically, and so on; very unimportant that they should be able to display posters at work or shout crude racist slogans.
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To a very large extent, our ideas of justice are contextual, meaning that before we can decide whether a rule or a decision is fair we have to know a good deal about the situation in which it is being applied.
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some political philosophers have claimed that it is the only principle – all justice is a kind of equality.
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social justice requires the equal distribution of some social benefits – especially equal rights of citizenship such as voting and freedom of speech. It requires some benefits to be distributed on the basis of need, so that everyone is guaranteed an adequate income, access to housing and health care, and so forth. But it also allows other resources to be distributed unequally, so long as there is equal opportunity for people to try to acquire a larger share. These inequalities may be justified on grounds of desert, or on the grounds that by giving people material incentives to work hard and produce goods and services that other people want, everyone in society benefits.
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The issues raised by feminists and multiculturalists are certainly very important, and should shift the way we think about politics. But they should not displace the older questions, which remain as urgent as they ever were. Instead they give these questions a new dimension. My aim here is to explore how far feminist and multiculturalist arguments should make us think differently about political authority, democracy, freedom and its limits, and justice.
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How can we decide whether observed male–female differences in choice are merely the result of cultural norms that could be changed, or whether they reflect differences that are hard-wired into the sexes? This is such a complex issue that the wisest course may be to follow John Stuart Mill and remain agnostic. As Mill wrote in The Subjection of Women (one of the very few examples of feminist political philosophy before the 20th century):   I deny that anyone knows, or can know, the nature of the two sexes, as long as they have only been seen in their present relation to one another. If men had ever been found in society without women, or women without men, or if there had been a society of men and women in which the women were not under the control of the men, something might have been positively known about the mental and moral differences which may be inherent in the nature of each.
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we are inclined to trust those who we believe resemble us in one way or another.
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The thrust of my argument in this chapter is that democracy works best on a small scale: the city-state was probably its ideal site, and the nation-state’s great achievement has been to simulate the intimacy of the city by its use of the mass media, giving people at least a sense that they are involved in, and able to influence, political affairs. But world government would appear a distant and alien body, as even, on a much smaller scale, the European Union does to many people today. And the issue of trust, highlighted earlier, would emerge with all its force: why would I regard as legitimate decisions taken by a majority drawn from communities with which I feel myself to have little in common?
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