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Political Theory

Political theory looks at philosophical questions such as: What is the proper role of government? What makes a legitimate government? And what duties do citizens owe to their state and to each other? The study of political theory also encompasses a number of different themes, such as democracy, as well as different political concepts, such as the concept of rights and the concept of justice. Political theory, as an academic study, is built upon a foundation laid by the work of indisputable classic philosophical thinkers: Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, Mill, Marx, and Nietzsche.

Many courses on political theory begin with the work of Thomas Hobbes, who established the foundation of Western political theory from the perspective of social contract theory, outlined in his 1651 book Leviathan. Hobbes’ advocated for the absolutism of state sovereignty; however, these views were moderated in part by his recognition of some liberal fundamentals, such as the right of the individual. John Stuart Mill later championed these fundamentals of liberty. Contrary to Hobbes, Mill asserted that the concept of freedom justified an individual’s opposition to unlimited state control. Mill’s ideas of freedom continue to be championed by American politicians today.

Thus politicians often champion ideas found in political theory. When these ideas are promoted as a coherent system of beliefs, we refer to these systems of beliefs as political ideologies. Political ideologies are typical derived from particular themes or concepts in political theory, and are established as a set of ethics, morals, philosophies, doctrines, myths, and symbols that are adopted by a social movement or a particular class of people.

Political ideologies often contain ideas about the best form of government (such as democracy) and the best economic system (such as capitalism). As a result, ideologies are often identified by their position on the political spectrum: fascism and conservatism are considered right wing; and socialism and communism are considered left wing. Politicians, activists, voters and citizens who subscribe to a particular ideology often view political events and debates through the particular lens that their ideology provides. For example, in the current American gun debate, conservatives see the right to bear arms as an expression of their individual freedom, and liberals view the same right as threatening collective security. Thus it is in the form of political ideology that political theory manifests itself in real-life domestic (and international) politics.

Categories within Political Theory

The Role of Government Debate

Postings: 0

The debate about the proper role of government in society is fundamental to political theory. Right-wing moderates advocate for a limited government which provides for freedom based on equality of opportunity. The most important role of a limited state would be in enforcing a judicial system that allowed private members to adjudicate between themselves. Thus citizens would be completely free from state control except where that freedom infringed on the rights of another. Left-wing moderates suggest that wealth redistribution is an important role of the government in that in not only ensures equality of opportunity, but also promotes justice based on equality of outcome.

Political Thinkers

Postings: 5

In history there are a number of classic political theorists, including Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, Mill, Marx, and Nietzsche. Other important Western political theorists that students may study include Hume, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Kant, and Bentham.

Political Ideologies

Postings: 8

Political ideologies are a system of beliefs about "the good life" and the political methods by which that can be achieved. Political ideology acts as a lens through which its adherence view political events and debates.

Political Concepts

Postings: 4

Political concepts encompass notions such as justice and rights. Political theory looks to establish normative beliefs about the value of these types of political concepts. Once a political theory establishes that a political concept has normative significance, for example, that the protection of individual rights ought to be pursued; a political theory will typically discuss a political method where by a political concept may best be achieved.

Support for the Patriot Act

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Impacts and Interests of Fracking

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Opinion on Raising Minimum Wage

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International Law and International Court of Justice

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Medical marijuana- Policy Analysis Case Study

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Charter Schools Value and Problems

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Discussing Affordable Healthcare Act

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International law and use of force

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Russian vs. NATO

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JS Mills 'On Liberty' and Despotism

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Rich, Poor, and Phenomenology

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Kant and Friedman

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Hypothetical Government

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Contrasts between the conservatives and liberals regarding grants-in-aid

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Scenario-METT-TC

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Constructing an Article Analysis

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International Security Assistance (ISAF)

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Leadership Philosophy Paper

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Ethical Decision-Making Processes

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Russia: Authoritarianism

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Audit of the HR program of Customs and Border Protection

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Administration and Politics Dichotomy

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Terrorist Attack on the USS Cole

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Four Vital Processes in Disaster Operations

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Research - Association, Correlation and Causation

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Feasibility of Public Policy

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