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Review of Select readings in Social Philosophy

Reflect on what you gained from each of the below readings in terms of developing an effective society and what responsibilities its citizens have for contributing toward this goal. Use examples from the readings to support your points.

The Idea of a Civil Society (Michael Walzer)
The Character of Citizens (Aristotle)
from The Second Treatise on Government (John Locke)
from A Model of Christian Charity (John Winthrop)
The Maryland Act of Toleration of 1649 (Eward C. Papenfuse, Jr.)

Reflect on two current events relating to the above readings.

Identify and explain the ways that are you a good citizen and positive contributor to our society now.

Identify and explain the ways that you can be a better citizen and contributor to our society than you currently are.

Identify and explain the traditions that you have that help improve our society.

Explain why John Locke's work was so important to our country's founders as they set about creating our system of government.

Solution Preview

Dear Student,
While I tried to create a concise solution limited in word count, I cannot discount the fact that the ideas proposed in each of the essays you have indicated are painfully detailed and at the worst cannot be distilled into a few mere paragraphs. I tried my best to synthesize the ideals of the essay while going through the exercise of answering the questions that your post asked. I have come to this process: I answered the first question for all of the essays. That is, I reflected upon the understanding I gained from each of the readings on the ideas of developing an effective society by virtue of the proposed tenets of each author per essay. I however per your message assigned a question to each of the essay using the five questions that in my mind seem to pertain only to particular readings. For John Locke's I explained his relevance to the Founding Fathers; for Aristotle's I reflected on current events that related to his tenets; for Papenfuse's I looked at an expect of myself in which I see myself as a contributor to society; for Walzer's I looked at a particular tradition, in this instance - cuisine where in general contributions enrich society as a whole; and lastly, Winthrop's where I looked at an aspect of myself that I can work out to contribute more to society. Note that for Papenfuse Jr., Walzer and Winthrop while I drew from my own particular experience, I tried to make a very general example. I want you to be able to draw from your own using mine. Lastly, note that the first paragraphs are enough to explain the reading, the rest of it I prepared for you because I want you to understand the particulars. I advise you to print out the word copy of the solution I have attached as this is better presented. The Main ideas are always in the first paragraphs, the answers to questions are in Italic. I assume that since you have copies of the readings, you will not require additional interpretations. If you need clarification with this solution, I am just a message away. Thank you for using Brainmass!

OTA 105878

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The Two Treatises of Government (John Locke)
With a particular emphasis on the Second Treatise

(A synthesized explanation on Locke's Treatise & its importance to the American Founding Fathers and today's nations.)

John Locke, one of the Revolutionary pre-age of Reason (18th century) English political philosopher wrote his Two Treatises of Government between 1678 and 1680, when Monarchy in England as the rightful way to govern was being debated on all sides with many expressing discontentment at abuses of absolute power and its effects on the least of commoners. Sir Robert Filmer, one of the most ardent supporters of the 'Divine Right' doctrine through his book Patriarcha declared that Kings had natural power to govern by hereditary absolute monarchy as granted by God to Adam's ownership of the world. Being that the 17th century was still an age dominated by the Church where politics & religion are mixed, Locke and the humanists who believed in man being born equal had to thread lightly; he published his book anonymously. It was aimed as a critique of Filmer's Patriarcha. Indeed part 1 or the First treatise refutes Filmer's divinely-sanctioned patriarchalism where he examined every nook and cranny of Filmer's 'scripture-based' defence repudiating them as senseless and closing that no Government can exist by using the 'divine-right' of kings. This of course is a treasonous act in James II's England; while in the end Locke & fellow revolutionary Ashcraft were exiled, Sidney a fellow revolutionary was executed for treason. In part 2 of his essay, the second treatise, Locke writes, "In the State of Nature, All men are created Equal." Then he looks into the rise and fall of civilization and how power is consolidated to create a sense of state, be it monarchical or otherwise concluding therefore that governments without the consent of the people it is supposed to govern can therefore be overthrown.

Importance to the Founding Fathers

While his work did not become popular in his time due to its nature by the 1760's the ideas he proposed became the heart of the American & French Revolutions for Independence. The American Declaration of Independence & essays by Samuel Adams express Lockean ideals. Blackstone's 'Commentaries on the Laws of England' was based on Locke's philosophies which became the basis of many American Revolutionary ideals pre-1776. Indeed, at this point in time Thomas Jefferson declared Locke as one of the greatest men who ever lived. His ideals pointed out that the relationship between the State & its Citizens is a form of contract that gives the citizen the right to overthrow it if it over steps it's bounds. Despite France's aid to the revolutionaries of the 13 colonies they did not see the French Model of government as acceptable. The Americans, as the revolutionaries referred to themselves gave birth to a practiced social democracy declaring British taxation on the colonies as illegitimate being that they were not represented as a people in the British Parliament citing Locke's theory of Social Contract. Republicanism, the American ideal state that developed after Locke's Social Contract put civic virtue, freedom, equality & the good of all above anything else. The founding fathers advocated republicanism and to defend it they went to war, costing many lives and ending in the Treaty of Paris. Thus, the United States of America was born. While freedom, human rights & equality are ideals that majority of the peoples of the world strive towards and espouse, while we look down on tyranny & the evils of corruption; while we fight to free those who are by arms and by pen; while we strive to aid those who need it through economics & social structures that have come into place long after Locke --- his ideals, the civil virtues have become today's norm that we the free peoples of the world who believe in equality and freedom would defend to the death. There would be social developments & events that will go against the idea of social equality & freedom compounded to this day & age by ethnic & religious issues. Still, Lockean moral philosophy is echoed in majority of Nations' constitutions and the U.N., that organization that all nations enter to echoes it the most: All Men are created Equal.

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The Character of Citizens (Aristotle)

Aristotle's idea of a citizen is bound in his idea of a state: A state exists because and for the citizens and the citizens are bound to the fate of the state. In a way, he is arguing that one cannot exist without the other. A state being composed of citizens mean that in order to achieve development and an ideal form of existence citizens must exhibit virtues that contribute towards the good of the state. For Aristotle, civic virtues are not limited to the personal --- one works with others in friendship for the good of all and for one's self. Remember that Athens at this point in time in antiquity, though modern and civilized with their rule of law is still beset by enemies and kingdoms ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides discussion-based reviews on select writings by Aristotle, Michael Walzer, John Locke, John Winthrop & Edward Papenfuse, Jr. This solution will provide key viewpoint in reading these social philosophers & the use of their ideas in understanding how society works.

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