Democracy (Problems of Philosophy) by Ross Harrison PDF

By Ross Harrison

ISBN-10: 0203005546

ISBN-13: 9780203005545

ISBN-10: 0415032547

ISBN-13: 9780415032544

ISBN-10: 0415130808

ISBN-13: 9780415130806

At a time whilst liberal democracy is the universally authorised and paradigmatic technique of political participation, no greater a booklet has emerged to evaluate democracy's background. Drawing upon democracy's historical past as either an concept and political act, Ross Harrison considers its significance through reading the works of Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, the yankee Federalists, Hume, Bentham, turbines, Hegel and Marx. Exploring democracy's courting to innovations equivalent to liberty, equality and information, Ross considers democracy's fallacies and as good as its foundations. Even-handedly, Ross weighs the advantages of democracy and the shortcoming thereof. Democracy is a compelling consultant via this suggestions background, and Ross keenly investigates every one paradox, challenge, seasoned and con of democracy.

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Example text

So it does not seem that a necessary condition for the operation of Athenian democracy was the exploitation of those outside. There remains the more important question of the exploitation of those within. The argument here would be that the operation of Athenian democracy required leisure in its members so that they had time to participate in the Assembly, Council and courts. This leisure, it might be argued, was only available to the Athenian citizens because they possessed slaves who did the essential work and so gave their masters the time needed to engage in politics.

However, such use of the idea of pre-social individuals, with its related fantasies of the use of a state of nature and of original contracts, is not prominent or central in Greek thought. This is because although the value of states is assessed by their value to individuals, individuals are standardly assumed only to possess their highest value when they are members of states. To take Aristotle again: he is quite clear that the end, or goal, of man is to live in society; that is, living in a state is the natural condition of a properly developed individual just as being an oak tree is the natural state of a properly developed acorn (‘Man is by nature an animal intended to live in a polis’ is a better translation of the famous remark habitually translated as ‘man is a political animal’ (Politics 1253a)).

In both he talks of a law of nature, but this does not really have the moral tone of most invocations of natural law, either before or after him. Hobbes thinks of the individual good for man in much more self-interested terms, and the law of nature refers much more to how human individuals actually do behave than to how they ought to behave. As Hobbes puts it, ‘of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himselfe’ (Lev xiv 93). These goods, or needs, start with life and the protection of the body against attack.

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Democracy (Problems of Philosophy) by Ross Harrison

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