political philosophy essay examples

Free Political Philosophy Essays and Papers

political philosophy essay examples

Social and Political Philosophy

Social philosophy concentrates on social behavior and social issues. As Scott Hughes mentions in “Social Philosophy,” individualism, social interaction, motives for behavior, society as a whole, and many other social sciences make up the entity of social philosophy. Social philosophy also correlates to other philosophical domains such as epistemology, metaphysics, morality, and political philosophy. The analysis of human behavior concentrates on elements that influence social philosophy such as the

My Political Philosophy

My Political Philosophy Political Philosophy is typically a study of a wide range of topics such as, justice, liberty, equality, rights, law, politics and the application of a codified law. Depending on what the philosophy is, it usually tends to be a very sensitive and a personal ideology that an individual holds within the reality of their existence. Several of the fundamental topics of political philosophy shape up the society that we live in as these specific topics and their implementation

Political Philosophy of the Constitution

Political Philosophy of the Constitution The Constitution is one of the most significant file and certificate in the United States, the constitution of United States of America was created by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the state of Philadelphia and in the year of 1787. The Constitution changed the life of people; furthermore, when the constitution was created, it provided different types of freedom for different people. The constitution of United States includes about twenty seven amendments

The Political Philosophy Of Ghandism

INTRODUCTION The constitution that ratifies the state of Jaipan will be built on the foundations that influenced the political philosophy of Ghandism. Progressive in the nature of encompassing transparency within layers of bureaucracy to maintain a consciousness of equality within society- libertarian socialism, social anarchy and Ghandism illustrates; “Without the principle of peace and strategy, politics has always embellished into banks of violent protest through all pillars of society.” (Huttenback

Explaining Political Philosophy

Explaining Political Philosophy Political philosophy, or political theory, as it is also known, is about human condition, or, what humans are like. There are roughly four main kinds of political philosophy around today-Libertarianism, Socialism, Liberalism and Communitarianism. Political theory is an attempt to understand people, what we are like as individuals, what society and the state are like, and how we as humans, the state and society all interact with one and other. A social contract

Enlightenment Political Philosophy

Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were some of the first political thinkers during the Enlightenment era. “The Enlightenment is most identified with its political accomplishments.” (Stanford) All three of these men are known today as “social contract” thinkers. They each describe their own view of the “state of nature” and discuss how a proper government should be made and run. Although they have their own individual ideas, their philosophies do suggest similarities. The state of nature may be interpreted

Applications of Political Philosophy

Politics Political philosophy observes the application of principled notions to the communal sphere, hence dealing with the diversity of government structures and social stratosphere and providing a standard by which to analyze and critique prevailing institutes and affairs. Eighteenth-century Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, once wrote, “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” People are not born with any natural masters, yet in a civilized society rules govern all aspects of

Political Philosophy

place? Who should have the right to do such a thing? Today, the most powerful countries are run by democracy. But what is its purpose? It is supposed to carry out the will of the majority. So this means that someone will always be unhappy. Political philosophy deals with these sort of issues. Great minds such as Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire and Locke have looked at these issues and have tried to find the best possible answers. In days of old, kings created laws in order to keep peace. Most of the laws

Political Philosophy Part One (Question 2) Aristotle, Locke, and Hobbes all place a great deal of importance on the state of nature and how it relates to the origin of political bodies. Each one, however, has a different conception of what a natural state is, and ultimately, this leads to a different conception of what a government should be, based on this natural state. Aristotle’s feelings on the natural state of man is much different than that of modern philosophers and leads to a construction

The Evolving Repercussions of Political Philosophy

governing bodies. Through the progression of time, many of these political ideals have changed according to what the people of that time are socially and culturally in need of. One of these times was in the seventeenth century in Europe. The development and change of several political ideas began to shape the nation. Through this shaping was the development of the political basis for the United States. The beginning of the political changes in Europe has the basis of monarchy. This began in early

The Philosophy behind Political Disobedience

Political disobedience happens when the individuals of a nation feel it is crucial to make changes in government. Distinctive countries have diverse plans regarding the obligations of government, and accordingly there are numerous conceivable explanations behind political defiance. John Locke, an English therapeutic specialist and rationalist who existed until 1704, distributed his liberal speculations about government, property, and the privileges of man, in his book «Second Treatise of Government»

Comparative Political Philosophy

Comparative Political Philosophy Throughout history, each type of political system has condoned something that benefits their way of life. For example, for many years slavery was condoned as a means for the economy. As time progresses, equality emerges. Equality being one of the three focuses of government: equality, freedom, and order. Each philosopher picks one of the three to believe to be the main focus of government and forms of the other two will follow. Machiavelli, Plato, Cicero, and Aristotle

Thomas Hobbes Philosophy Of Political Power

Thomas Hobbes considered himself to be the first true political philosopher, based in part to the fact that he was the first person to look at political philosophy from a purely scientific basis. However, Hobbes still believed that a moral code, or a natural law, was required for a civilized society. John Locke defined political power as the right to make laws for the public good. He also stated, “The rules that they make for other men’s actions must…be conformable to the laws of nature, i.e

Contemporary Political Philosophy by Will Kymlicka

Will Kymlicka’s book, “Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction,” discusses various political philosophies including utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is made up many different aspects including different accounts. The account of utility that I will be discussing is the informed preference satisfaction. Like any part of philosophy, this account of utility has its strengths and weaknesses in practicality and plausibility. I believe that the informed preferences account is a practical attempt

Political Philosophy in Machiavelli’s The Prince and Discourses on Livy

The term political philosophy cannot be mentioned without Machiavelli’s The Prince coming to mind. This is one of the most notable books ever written on the topic of politics and one of the most well known books to come from the Renaissance, but it is not the only book from this time period that focused on politics. Machiavelli also wrote Discourses on Livy, which gives a very different view of the political world and Francis Bacon wrote about the reign of Henry VII. Each of these manuscripts focuses

Hobbes and Locke: Comparing and Contrasting Political Philosophies

(A) Comparing and contrasting the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke Thomas Hobbes and John Locke are comparable in their basic political ideologies about man and their rights in the state of nature before they enter a civil society. Their political ideas are very much similar in that regard. The resemblance between Hobbes and Locke’s philosophies are based on a few characteristics of the state of nature and the state of man. Firstly, in the state of nature both Hobbes and Locke

New Political Philosophy for Russia

New Political Philosophy for Russia ABSTRACT: Both domestic and foreign policies of each state presuppose a certain ideology as a foundation. In a broad sense, an ideology may be regarded as a certain 'system of coordinates,' an interpretational model of the world (Weltanschauung) including both empirico-theoretical (realizing a nation's place in regional and global contexts, with a clear understanding of national interests, goals and resources) and metatheoretical (comprehending a nation in the

Self Interest in the Political Philosophies of Mill and Locke

idea among political thinkers for many years. In any issue that is linked to the realm of political philosophy, the role of self-interest within a society must be considered. The role of self-interest within a society is the basis for the moral thinking that involves weighing the “needs and obligations of an individual against the goods of the individual and in turn society” (The Role of Self interest in Political Philosophy). Before confronting an issue within a society, a political thinker must

Politicalism And Political Ideas In Gandhi's Political Philosophy

CHAPTER 2 POLITICAL IDEALS IN GANDHI’S PRATICAL PHILOSOPHY INTRODUCTION 2. Gandhian approch to the Political Ideals The term political theory and political philosophy are used interchangeably, there has been a recognisable and significant difference between these two as far as the theoretical and work of the political scientists and political philosophers are concerned. Of course, there is a discernable distinction between what is social and political. These two terms political theory and

Liberalism has Helped Shape Western Political Philosophy

Throughout history, liberalism has been a key principle doctrine in which has helped shape Western political philosophy. Western liberalism traditionally presents its core values around individual freedom and equality. It is also typically associated with democracy, capitalism, freedom of religion, and human rights. These principles have been highlighted in Europe and the United States for the past three hundred years and has served as the dominant ideology of modern Western society. However, although

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Political philosophy is a subfield of philosophy that focuses heavily on the political, legal, and moral implications of different schools of thought within society. It is a field that goes back thousands of years to the time of Socrates, and more recently Machiavelli and Hobbes. These topics are covered below, or consider  Ultius' other topics within the humanties and philosophy for additional information.

Socrates, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and political philosophy

Over time, a number of philosphers have tried to delineate the inter-related areas of morailty, justice, and the place of indiviudals within society. This essay will focus on Machiavelli's concepts of power, Socrates' emphasis on justice, and Thomas Hobbes' exploration of central political authority through his publication Leviathan , as well as Hobbes' understanding of selfish morality. When choosing between identifying with either the Socratic school of thought or a Machiavellian Prince, it is important to answer the question of how important power is to the individual.

The two schools of philosophical thought have two very different approaches in terms of what power is and the means of going about attaining it, and these factors must be seriously considered before someone identifies with either Socrates or Machiavellian’s ideology. From a personal standpoint, I must admit that I identify with the Machiavellian point of view and therefore would rather be a Machiavellian Prince instead of a Socratic gadfly, which is a person that acts as a stimulating and provocative, though negative, agent of change.  

Machiavelli responds to Socrates' political philosophy

Instead of acting under the premise that humans are inherently good and moral, and therefore achieves gains through good, Machiavellian has a more pessimistic attitude to human nature. He realizes that there will be those that are “other than good” and, therefore, power is built and maintained as a necessity to keep those at bay. In the present day, there is greater acceptance of the idea of changing moral judgements , instead of one set of rules, for a number of philosophers and writers.

Machiavelli though, focuses not on morality, but on power. He pushes for the notion of the preservation of power by those that obtain it. Machiavellian points out,

“ he (the leader of the state) must stick to the good so long as he can, but, being compelled by necessity, he must be ready to take the way of the evil” (Machiavelli, 63). 

In the most basic sense of political power, Machiavellian is pushing for the denial of morality in any and all political affairs and “that craft and deceit are justified in pursuing and maintaining political power” (Machiavelli, 63). Machiavelli's themes on the use of power by individuals and institutions are even used to study the complexities of Shakespeare.  Ultimately, Machiavelli argues that in terms of power, the end justifies the means.

Socratic ideals within political philosophy

Socrates operates under a much different premise when compared to that of Machiavellian. Instead of assuming the inherent cruelty of some men, this doctrine preaches the importance of questioning why those that have power are able to morally have authority over others.  

Socrates was famous for his questioning of many of his time’s assumed truths about power, authority, and ethics. The major doctrine comes from questioning the reasoning and rationale for any and all of the actions of those in power. Socrates was famed for doing just that as he is usually portrayed as a man of “great insight, integrity, self-mastery, and argumentative skill” (“Socrates”). That being said, Socratic methods are usually a means of carefully justifying (through inquiry) actions that are morally permissible for all parties involved.

Political philosophy and political actions

The major rationale for discussing Machiavellen principles grows from this ideology, which allows for swift, efficient action in any given situation. Socratic gadfly is an excellent means for making sure that every possible action is justified in that it can reduce all actions to a series of questions and, subsequently, ask if those carrying out said actions are justified and morally permissible in doing so. But, the downside to such a thorough course of action is that it can slow down any real action to a crawl and a major debate that can ultimately end in a stalemate.

With Machiavellian’s ideology, one needs only see if the outcome of an event is favorable or results in a situation that is best for a particular group or society. A political issue or event can be quickly resolved because by the Machiavellian principle, one needs to simply arrive by whatever means possible to the optimal solution. The major issue that derives from this principle is in that of the people that have power under such a system.

The major drawback and argument against adopting a Machiavellian system of political ideology, more fully discussed in the essay on Machiavelli's The Prince,  is that those in power will misuse it for their own personal benefits while oppressing and harming those with no power in the process. Those that do not favor Machiavellian’s ideology argue that saying the end justifies the means is a slippery slope to a system that allows an ambitious, power hungry individual to seize control similar to that of something like Nazi Germany.

However, if one makes this argument than they must also be opened to the possibility that the system can allow for a truly benevolent individual to take control of a political system and, with the ability to act decisively, can make swift, just, and fair actions to lead a group or state.

When examining how it seems that most entities operate in the world today, it seems evident that the vast majority of political groups operate under a very Machiavellian system. These states are able to act relatively swiftly and resolve issues quickly as compared to the institutions that follow Socratic gadfly’s principles.

A real world example of these doctrines in practice use in shown by the political power between the United States President’s use of executive orders compared to that of The United Nations process of passing political sanctions. The UN practices a carefully executed, debated approach before taking any action, and as a result, many feel this organization is relatively weak and powerless in terms of being able to take action and get the political process moving. On the other hand, when the President of the United States makes an executive order, immediate action is taken.

This is usually in response to an impending issue or concern that needs immediate action. Though the action can sometimes lead to the harm of a few, the country tends to follow a idea of justifying their actions by the results. Being that I am a person that wants to be able to make swift, decisive actions, I identify with the Machiavellian school of thought. 

Political philosophy by Thomas Hobbes 

Thomas Hobbes is an early American political thought  leader and as one of the most influential minds in terms of political philosophy and will, most likely, remain so for centuries to come. His work Leviathan has been called one of the most significant pieces of writing in modern political ideology, rivaling the works of many famous minds including Plato, Aristotle, Locke, and many others. Hobbes believes that humanity is in need of a strong, central authority in order to be kept in control and not descend into a state of chaos and political upheaval.

This idea stems deeply from Hobbes’ political doctrine that has come to be known as the ‘social contract theory’, which is summarized in key points below.

Leviathan and social contract theory

Leviathan is a way in which Hobbes furthers his ideas as laid down by his social contract theory. The Leviathan is a metaphor for the figurehead that would rule the commonwealth that Hobbes suggests and also can be seen in relation to the monster of the seas of both folklore and biblical references. In the text, Hobbes makes the general statement that when reduced to the most principle features of nature mankind is inherently both violent and full of fear driven actions. He describes this state as, “war of every man against every man,” (Hobbes).  

In this state, mankind is constantly trying to destroy one another in the hopes of gaining others resources and other material possessions while maintaining their own safety. To combat this state of pure fear and fighting, Hobbes speculates that man will want to find peace and in doing so move to this state by following the principles that he has laid out in his social contract. 

Hobbes' views on selfish morality means that he believes humans are inherently not good. This is not to say that mankind is purely evil, but Hobbes seems to operate under the notion that mankind will not be unwilling to hinder others for his own personal gain.  

Based on this logic, Hobbes calls for a form of government where an unbiased opinion is the one in charge of a particular society. In this sense, Hobbes' shares a scholarly interest in aspects of morality that have also been studied and explained by Descartes and Descartesian morality . Yet, Hobbes hoped to establish an authority of absolute power that will act in such a way as to better the society as a whole. Those that are governed by this system will want to follow it. However, Hobbes’ logic seems very flawed in the way in which the person is placed in charge of this form of government.

By Hobbes’ own logic, the figurehead, or leviathan, of his government is a flawed leader. Hobbes is quoted as saying that man will define morality in such a way that it will only preserve those persons own self-interests. By putting a person that is supposedly removed from that society, Hobbes feels they will be able to not pass judgments that are biased to their own self-interests. 

Unfortunately, if Hobbes truly believes that this is the way in which humankind will act when left to his own vices, the Leviathan of this society will eventually act in such a way that will benefit his (or her) self interests to some extent. Perhaps this sort of government would, theoretically, be possible in the time that Hobbes originally wrote Leviathan, however such a system could not be possible today. In modern society, the world is so interconnected that someone with such absolute power would clearly make decisions for a group that would have repercussions felt by that individual. In a world that is so connected in all aspects of life from economic to social issues, there is no possible way to have this leviathan like figure head that is removed from society and able to, as Hobbes says, “hold us all in ‘awe’, to reinforce the obedience to ‘common names, commonly understood' (Hobbes).

Political philosophy and an individual's self-interests

Hobbes operates under the simple premise that mankind will do only what is in their own interests when left alone. This pessimistic view on society lead Hobbes to create the social contract theory that subsequently lead to the underlying ideology of Leviathan. The creation of a central authority that is removed from society but still able to “hold us all in awe” is theoretically a perfect solution to Hobbes raised concern, however it would not be realistically possible in our society at this point.

The advancement of technology has made the repercussions of all nations actions interwoven so that we are now entering a time of global dependency and awareness. With this being the case, it is nearly impossible, and highly improbable, that a single entity could exist in such a way as the leviathan in Hobbes’ writings without that individual becoming themselves corrupted and acting in such a way to promote their own self interests. Though Hobbes’ basic idea of humankind acting in their own self interests holds true through the modern age, it would seem that the solution to the apparent destruction of “all moral law” is no longer viable.  

Works Cited

"Hobbes's Moral and Political Philosophy." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., 23 Aug. 2008. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/entries/hobbes-moral>. 

Hobbes, Thomas, and J. C. A. Gaskin. Leviathan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print. 

Machiavelli, Niccolò, Thomas More, Martin Luther, William Roper, Ninian Hill Thomson, Ralph Robinson, Robert Scarlett Grignon, and C. A. Buchheim. The Prince. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1910. Print. 

"Socrates." Britannica Online Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/551948/Socrates>. 


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political philosophy essay examples

Essays on Political Philosophy

My views in politics and philosophy, analysis of hannah arendt’s opinion about collective dynamics, my attitude to political philosophy, the concept of individualism, analysis of augustine's political and social opinions, political philosophy of anarchism, a comparison of political philosophy and political ideology , analysis of rawls's and arendt's perspectives on freedom, ideas of thomas hobbes and john locke on the relationship between the government and its citizens, comparison of the world we live in today to the philosophies of ancient greece, hannah arendt and her political ideas, educational and political ideologies in the pedagogy of the oppressed, traditional versus behavioral approach to political science, analysis of aristotle’s idea of polis as the greatest form of human association, analysis of noam chomsky’s principles of concentration of wealth and power, comparison of john locke and thomas hobbes in terms of social understanding, the origins of totalitarianism by hannah arendt: the issue of minorities’ rights, classical republicanism and the natural right philosophy, research of whose philosophy made the most sense for america in the 1960’s, the use of philosophy in politics, "post modern" political sociology, analysis of the liberalism political view, experiences of the survivors in night by elie wiesel and maus by art spiegelman, analysis of hannah arendt’s views on the cause of evil, analysis of john winthrop’s speech a model of christian charity, john locke and thomas hobbes’ views on the role of government, political philosophy: comparative analysis of spinoza’s and hobbes’s approaches to the state, feeling stressed about your essay.

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political philosophy essay examples


political philosophy essay examples

Political philosophy Essays

Political philosophy of the tempest.

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Example Of My Political Philosophy Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Law , Philosophy , Sociology , Politics , Justice , Human , Supreme Court , Democracy

Words: 1800

Published: 03/18/2020


A person’s political philosophy pertains to their ideologies regarding politics as a science; meaning of justice; execution of liberties; ownership of property in the society, articulation of human rights; application of the law along with measures of enforcement. In some cultures political philosophy even has a strong impact on a person’s political science interpretations. As such, the exploration of my political philosophy will be addressed accordingly as it relates to the aforementioned subject areas or branch of disciplines. At first a world view of these interwoven political dichotomies will be presented followed by my personal interpretations of how just/fair a political system ought to function. Essentially, politics means influencing people. My precise philosophical position on influencing people pertains to manipulation into support of a specific idea. Often these ideas are not entirely beneficial to the people being manipulated. Arguments have been that exercising influence is solely for obtaining power to execute dominion over minorities in the society. Consequently, for me the real role of politics in modern as well as ancient societies is creating structured inequality. This design allows for under privileged people to always exist and gaps between rich and poor continue or even broaden. Theoretically, Plato's Republic, the politics of Aristotle and Confucius contributions have shaped political thought. With references to these assumptions and framework of thinking, my discussion pertaining to justice; execution of liberties; ownership of property in the society, articulation of human rights; application of the law along with measures of enforcement, will be embraced. Justice according to Plato’s Republic originates from designing valid social contracts. Further, with reference to Glaucon justice was perceived as not just being a great desire, but an expression of a value for which everyone ought to grave. The philosopher explained that justice does not only benefit the person to whom it is being extended, but also the one who extends it. In essence, justice is then a value which is retributable. The way in which one exercises justice in similar manner it will be returned. Therefore, the ‘do unto others as you would have them do to you’ concept of living fairly, becomes the hallmark of demonstrated justice (Nails, 324) In articulating the use of justice in societies highlighted by Plato and his counterparts, it was communicated that this value is often executed out of fear and not integrity. The philosophers specifically advanced that there are basically two reasons for executing justice by politicians. First, it is protecting themselves and their families from injustices. The population may turn towards them violently. if injustices are obvious. Secondly, the life of the unjust man lacks divine guidance and is open to affliction, Plato and his counterparts argue. However, it was concluded that while justice is relative its practice is not only right, but necessary for a stabled society (Nails, 324). Now, when applying these perspectives of justice to modern political practice we would find politicians during their campaigns try to demonstrate justice through free and fair elections initially. The freedom or liberty relates to persons being given the choice to exercise their franchise regarding who must lead the country. Through a democratic process when a leader is elected justice for contesting parties should have been served. This is not the case in every country around the world. For example, justice during an election campaign is initiated though democracy. Counties such a Cuba and Soviet Union, which for decades did not practice democracy during the electoral process, are they considered just to citizens? In these countries one party obtains power and rules forever. Citizens have no choice of selecting any other leader. They simply have to abide with the conditions offered them or be tortured. It must be understood that while this attitude of executing power may be condemned because of human rights violations other forms of injustices occur among nations practicing democracy. For example, in South Africa and the early United States of America Apartheid and segregation created immense injustices for black skinned human beings. According to Plato the social contracts designed projected inequality and subjugation of man by man for obscene reasons. Through this paradigm my philosophical assumption is that people cannot find justice in democracy nor dictatorship. Both patterns of political governance have produced different degrees of injustices to humanity. Consequently, for justice to be just a new system whereby equality is demonstrated at every social level, must be the focus. Karl Marx (1818 -1863) reiterated that no philosopher must confuse equality with equity. Marx‘s interpretations of these concepts in relation to justice explains that many injustices are demonstrated among humans. Often one group wants to dominate the other economically (Marx. & Engels, 477) This being the motive then, equality is making resources available to everyone alike in the society, whereas equity is insinuating that everyone must have the same amount of resources. This does not have to be the prequalification for social justice to exist in a society. Instead the political system must be so designed that no one is ahead of the game, but everyone has equal opportunities of acquiring the resources that are available. In apartheid and segregation there is no equality. Structured inequality is the name of the game. These are the avenues of injustices articulated by modern political systems in the fallacy of creating social order. Based on these observations of ancient and contemporary models, my political philosophy regarding social justice is not based on democracy or dictatorship rule, but a models that upholds human dignity. The foundation for my assumption is that there is no need to kill, create wars, and segregate one group of people from the other due to prejudices. The underlying motive is economic gain and ultimate acquiring power wield economic power, influence and subjugate minorities. The good news is that there are enough resources in the world for every intelligent human being to become a millionaire. Why prevent the majority from accessing them due to fear that there will not be enough? The fear of not enough has destroyed families and create wars internationally during colorization of the new world. Imperialist systems must go whereby mother counties dominate children colonies and politicians create and demoralize minorities. Minorities are considered uncivilized as the American Indians and native peoples all over the world. This has been the greatest injustice second to slavery executed towards human beings. Man countries that were plundered had their unique patterns of civilizations. These people were forced towards being Christianized against their will and work to support the wealthy. Marx continued to pronounce that religion serves as an option for the masses. Therefore, the fear of a fierce judgmental God keeps poor people anticipating a better day in heaven when they die due to inadequate healthcare or being killed by the police. Ultimately, my philosophy of social justice is destroying all structures, polices, types of governance that prevent people from functioning as free human beings. Why humans have to live in chains on earth while others have more than enough of their share of resources? Essentially social justice summarized the extent to which liberties can be executed; property owned or resources acquired. Social justice also determine the level of human rights privilege one can demonstrate within the social structure. Ultimately, social justice allocations are the true remedies for inconsistencies in law applications within the legal system. It is also the solution to law enforcement uses unnecessary force against minorities, when compared to supporter of white supremacy. The aforementioned deliberations regarding the face of social justice within modern and ancient political systems, explain my specific opinions on current political issues. These issues articulated reflect my position on fundamental problems of political thought regarding social justice. For me social justice encompasses human liberties, human rights, the rule of law and law enforcement practices. Certainly, the ideas shared pertaining to democracy and dictatorship are grounded in world view concepts of the situations presented as examples. Machiavelli’s interpretation of human nature fascinates me as a political philosopher. He advanced that humans will engage in any activity to achieve power. These activities often require that fellow humans suffer and even die. However, the end justifies the means. Therefore, social justice is determined by achievement of personal goals regardless of who gets hurt in the process(Adams, 20). While for me such disregard for human dignity appalling it must be admitted that this is the way world politics functions currently. Since my concept of human nature is inconsistent with those of a Machiavellian perspective the politics for me should be presented with cleanliness. Democratic political processes are relatively transparent when compared to various levels of dictatorship. As such, this has influenced my thinking of politics as an institution in society while expected to design compatible social structures still fail to create them. For example, when measures of law enforcement are explored at a deeper level, it was discovered that the police in America seems to be interpreting laws from a personal political agenda. There are series of police shootings across the nation. The socio-political function of this institution is public safety. If twelve years olds are being gunned down to death by police for carrying a toy gun. Where is the public safety offered by this political structure? Is this section of the law enforcement mechanisms serving the rights of people in these communities? How are politicians responding to this crisis? The law specifies that if some kills that person ought to pay the penalty for the life lost by being executed. However, the scenario has been the police who kills an innocent child goes free. Therefore, in my judgment politics is a dirty game with total disrespect for human life. There is no justice for the masses. My political values embody classical liberalism. In some political cultures it is called laissez-faire liberalism being advanced by philosophers in the caliber of Adam Smith and others. Human rationality is a sub value of this doctrine. Also, protection of civil liberties, constitutional government limitation, free markets, individual freedom, and individual property rights among many more positions encompass classical liberalism. Its main assumption is that government must play limited role in structuring society (Adams, 20). The people to whom the society belong must participate in this activity. This is how I think government and society ought to be organized with human rationality prevailing. Individual property right is the next value of priority in my value paradigm with free market and individual freedoms following

Works cited

Adams, Ian, Political Ideology Today. Manchester University Press. 2001. Print. Marx. Karl; Engels Frederick. The Communist Manifesto. Collected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. 1848. Print Nails, Debra. The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics. Hackett Publishing. 2002. Print

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Information on Writing Philosophy Papers

Please familiarize yourself with the university’s academic honest policies if you have not already done so. They are available here: http://www.rochester.edu/college/honesty/docs/Academic_Honesty.pdf . Note in particular that it is a violation of these policies to use material from any source (other than yourself) in your papers without attribution and, where relevant, use of quotation marks. This applies especially to copying and pasting material from websites, which should always be avoided. You may, of course, make limited use of academically respectable web resources where relevant, as long as they are properly cited (I'm not picky about the exact format of your citations, as long as they contain the relevant information) and any quoted material is clearly placed in quotation marks (though this should still be a very limited portion of your paper). However, you should never make any use at all of student 'essay mills'--websites that offer students canned student essays for 'research' purposes: these essays are not research and do not meet the standards for scholarly sources; they have no place in the writing of your papers.

General Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers

Sample Short Paper and Commentary

For Illustrative purposes only

Sample Essay Question : Is Socrates' position in the Crito , concerning the moral authority of the state, consistent with his view that one should never do anything that is wrong? Is it consistent with what he says, in the Apology , about what he would do if commanded by the state to cease practicing philosophy, or about what he did when commanded by the Thirty to capture Leon of Salamis for execution? Explain.

(Note: page references are to a different edition than the one you have ; paragraphs should be indented, but are not here due to limitations of html formatting; I have not here included footnotes for the same reason; and your papers should be double-spaced, rather than single-spaced.)

Socrates on the Moral Authority of the State

In the Crito , Socrates makes some surprisingly strong claims about the moral authority of the state, which might even seem to be inconsistent both with another fundamental claim he makes in the Crito and with certain claims he makes in the Apology . I shall argue that although these claims seem to be in some tension with each other, the crucial claims about the authority of the state in the Crito can plausibly be interpreted in such a way as to remove any real inconsistency with the other claims.

The first, rather striking claim about the moral authority of the state occurs at 51b of the Crito . Socrates argues that, because of the state's role as a provider of security, education, and various important social institutions (such as marriage), the citizens of the state are its "offspring and servants"; and from this he concludes that citizens are subordinate to the state and its laws to such an extent that if a citizen ever disagrees with the state's laws or orders, he "must either persuade it or obey its orders," even if the latter amounts to suffering death. The implication for his own case is clear: Socrates had tried to persuade the court of his innocence and of the injustice of his execution (as detailed in the Apology ), but he had failed; therefore, he argues, he must now obey the court and accept his death sentence--even though he still thinks that he is in the right on this matter.

The second, closely related claim, comes only a few paragraphs later, in 51e and 52. Socrates there argues that by virtue of remaining in the state, a citizen enters into an implied contract with it to obey its commands. More precisely, the claim is again that a citizen who has a disagreement with the state must either persuade it that it is wrong, or else obey it. In the voice of the personified laws: "either persuade us or do what we say" (52a). The implication, again, is that if one fails to persuade the state to change its mind, for whatever reason, then one must obey its orders. A citizen has no moral right to continue to resist the state, even if he is convinced that he is in the right and the state is in the wrong.

Now as mentioned above, these claims seem directly opposed to certain other claims Socrates makes. Most importantly, earlier in the Crito itself, Socrates had stressed that "one must never do wrong" (49b). Indeed, this serves as the driving principle behind the rest of his argument in the Crito . But is this really consistent with maintaining that one must always obey the state, if one fails to persuade it that something it orders is wrong? The obvious objection is that the state might well order one to do something wrong--e.g. because one of its laws is an unjust one, as Jim Crow laws were. In that case, Socrates' claim that one should never do anything wrong would entail refusing to do what the state orders-- even if one is unsuccessful in persuading the state that it is wrong. Thus, Socrates' claim that one should never do wrong seems inconsistent with his claim that one must always obey the final orders of the state. 

Secondly, it might be objected that Socrates' view of the moral authority of the state is inconsistent both with what he did when ordered by the Thirty to capture Leon of Salamis for execution, and with what he says he'd do if ordered by the state to cease practicing philosophy (both from the Apology ). When the Thirty ordered him to capture Leon, he refused, on the grounds that this would have been wrong (unjust and impious). ( Apology , 32c-d) This seems to be a recognition that one is morally obligated or at least permitted to disobey the state when what it commands is wrong--even if one fails to persuade it of its wrongness. And similarly, Socrates makes clear that he would disobey the state and continue philosophizing if it were to order him to stop--again, on the grounds that it would be wrong for him to stop philosophizing (recall that he saw philosophy as his life's mission, given him by the god). ( Apology , 29c-d) Again, this seems to contradict what he says in the Crito about the supreme moral authority of the state and its laws and orders.

I believe, however, that it is possible to read the crucial passages about the authority of the state in the Crito in such a way as to render them consistent with Socrates' exhortation never to do wrong, and with his remarks about disobedience in the Apology . To see this, it is necessary to distinguish first of all between two issues: (a) what the law might require you to do , and (b) what the law might require you to endure . With this distinction in mind, consider the following possible interpretations of Socrates' claim about the moral authority of the state in the Crito :

( i ) Citizens must obey any law or order of the state, whatever it asks them to do or to endure ;

(ii) Citizens must endure whatever any law or order of the state says they must--including the law that verdicts arrived at through proper procedures shall be carried out--but citizens need not and morally should not do what is prescribed by an unjust law.

Now which of these positions is it most plausible to attribute to Socrates in the Crito ?

There are passages that might seem to suggest i (e.g. 51e, 52a), but again, the obvious problem is that it seems inconsistent with his fundamental principle that one should never do wrong (49a)--at least on the assumption, which Socrates clearly accepts in the Apology , that the state is not infallible as regards judgments of right and wrong. Thus, a more charitable reading would interpret the passages about the moral authority of the state as referring implicitly to cases where the state does not require one to do anything unjust, but merely to endure something (or perhaps to do something that is not itself unjust, such as rendering some political service).

If the passages are read in this way, we can interpret Socrates' claim as ii above. When he says that one must obey the state's final laws and orders, what he means is that one must do anything it tells one to do within the bounds of justice , and that one must endure anything it tells one to endure. Thus, Socrates was not obligated to capture Leon of Salamis, and would not be obligated to cease philosophizing if ordered to, since that would be doing something wrong (i.e. something that is not within the bounds of justice); but he is obligated to accept and endure his punishment, as long as it was arrived at through proper judicial procedures. The latter is true, according to Socrates, even though the punishment is wrong; for by suffering it, he is not himself doing anything wrong, but only enduring something wrong. This is perfectly consistent with Socrates' exhortation never to do anything wrong.

Thus, what at first appears to be a blatant contradiction among Socrates' various claims is fairly easily remedied if we interpret the relevant passages in the Crito as making the claim in ii rather than the claim in i above. This interpretation is supported not only by the fact that it helps to reconcile Socrates' seemingly contradictory claims, but also by the fact that Socrates' examples of obedience to the state over one's own objections all involve having to endure something, rather than having to do something. He speaks in Crito 51b, for example, of having to "endure in silence whatever it instructs you to endure, whether blows or bonds, and if it leads you into war to be wounded or killed, you must obey." Though he does not explicitly formulate his claim as in ii above, his focus is clearly on the issue of having to endure something prescribed by the state, over one's own objections. Therefore, it is consistent with the text to interpret him as making only the claim in ii, which is fully compatible with his claim that one must never do wrong, and with his claim that under certain conditions one should refuse to do something the state orders (such as refusing to capture someone for an unjust execution, or refusing to cease carrying out your divine mission as long as you live).

As for the plausibility of Socrates' view, I believe that it is still overly demanding, even when qualified as in ii above. It's unclear why any of the factors Socrates mentioned should give the state such overriding moral authority that one should be morally obliged to endure execution without resistance even in cases where the state is genuinely in the wrong. It seems more plausible to hold that if one stands to be unjustly executed, one can rightly resist this punishment ( even if it would equally be permissible not to resist). One could do this, I think, without showing any contempt for the laws, or challenging their authority, since one still grants the state's authority to do its best to carry out the punishment, and simply asserts a moral right to do one's best in turn to avoid such wrongful punishment. But that's a topic for another paper.


Note, first of all, the concise, crisp introduction. The problem is plainly stated, and then I explain clearly what I'm going to do in the paper--all in just a few sentences. There's no rambling introduction with sentences starting with "Since the beginning of time, mankind has pondered the mysteries of etc."

The style is straightforward, striving for clarity rather than literary flair. Jargon is avoided as far as possible.

After the introduction, the problem is stated in more depth and detail, with textual references. Notice the spare use of quotes. I quote only a few words here and there, where necessary to illustrate the points. This might be extended to a few sentences, if necessary, but beware of over-quoting and letting someone else's words do your work for you. (The worst mistake is just stringing together quotes, which accomplishes nothing.) Notice also that textual references are given for the quotes, as well as for paraphrased passages. (Normally, I'd use footnotes and have complete citations, but I'm limited by html format here.)

Notice how, in describing the problem, I try to elucidate it, rather than just summarizing it. Summary is not explanation . Instead, I try to make clear where exactly the tensions among the various claims seem to arise and why, and how they apply to Socrates' own case. I've tried to go well beyond the superficial statement of the problem in the essay question, to illuminate and develop it.

Now having done that, one might just stop and claim to have answered the question: "No, the various positions are not consistent, and Socrates is just contradicting himself." But that would be a very superficial paper. Instead, I tried to dig beneath the surface a little bit, and to notice that the central claim can be interpreted in more than one way. So I first of all made a distinction between two possible interpretations, which in turn depended on a distinction between what you might be commanded to do and what you might be commanded to endure . That distinction enabled me to argue for an interpretation of what Socrates is claiming about the moral authority of the state that renders this claim consistent with his other claims. (Noticing and exploiting distinctions is a large part of what doing philosophy is all about.)

Whether or not you agree with that particular argument, you can see the difference between bringing the discussion to that level of detail and merely staying on the surface. So even if you would have taken a different position, the point is that a good paper would still be engaging with the issues at that level of depth, rather than remaining on the surface. If you think Socrates really is contradicting himself, for example, you might then also discuss the distinctions I pointed out, but then argue for an interpretation along the lines of the first interpretation instead, despite the inconsistencies with other things he says. (Of course, you'd have to be able to give an argument for why the text should be understood in that way, despite the fact that Socrates winds up with rather glaringly conflicting claims on that reading.)

Again, notice that I am striving for clarity , precision and thoroughness , along with a straightforward organization for the paper.


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