The Nature of Political Theory. Pages·· MB·2, Downloads. Andrew Vincent, The moral rights of. Ideological Political Theory. Global Politics Heywood, Andrew Global Politics. Political Ideologies An Introduction 3rd edition Andrew Heywood. Andrew Heywood. Politics. Political Philosophy and Theory; UK Politics; Politics examines the substantive ideas and beliefs of the major political ideologies.

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Andrew Heywood , , All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. This leading text provides a concise and broad-ranging introduction to the contemporary study of political theory. Each chapter discusses a cluster of interrelated. Political Ideas and Ideologies · Politics and the State · Democracy and Legitimacy · Nations and Nationalism · Political Economy and Globalization · Politics.

Such a view of politics is often traced back to Aristotle. Personal Realm Family and Domestic Life 31 2- Politics as Public Affairs Traditional Distinction The traditional distinction between the public realm and the private realm is in line with the division between the state and civil society. One of the crucial implications of this is that it broadens our notion of the political, transferring the economy in particular from the private to the public realm.

Feminist thinkers in particular have pointed out that this implies that politics effectively stops at the front door; it does not take place in the family, in domestic life, or in personal relationships.

It thus gives meaning to life and affirms the uniqueness of each individual. Politics as compromise and consensus Here, politics is seen as a particular means of resolving conflict: that is, by compromise, conciliation and negotiation, rather than through force and naked power.

Politics as compromise and consensus One of the leading modern exponents of this view is Bernard Crick. Politics as compromise and consensus This view of politics clearly has a positive character. Note that, politics is certainly no utopian solution because compromise means that concessions are made by all sides, leaving no one perfectly satisfied.

But, it is definitely preferable to the alternatives: bloodshed and brutality. In this sense, politics can be seen as a civilized and civilizing force. Politics as compromise and consensus People should be encouraged to respect politics as an activity, and should be prepared to engage in the political life of their own community. It is important to understand that this involves listening carefully to the opinions of others — and this is not so easy.

Andrew Heywood Publisher: Red Globe Press. Hardcover - Ebook - Show More. Show Less. Increased coverage throughout of non-Western and post-colonial approaches, with Beyond the West features on Islamic, Buddhist, Chinese, Indian, African, Latin American and other traditions.

Additional attention is paid to issues of identity and diversity to address contemporary political developments. What is Political Theory? Human Nature, the Individual and Society 3. The extent to which contemporary understanding can be advanced through a study of past political thinkers and traditions may therefore be extremely limited. The second development is that political theory has become increasingly diffuse and fragmented.

In the modern period, Western political thought had acquired an unmistakably liberal character, to such an extent that liberalism see p. The major rivals to liberalism were Marxism see p. Key debates in political theory for 12 Political Theory However, since the s, a range of rival political traditions have emerged as critiques of, or alternatives to, liberal theory. These have included radical feminism see p. Faced by such challenges, liberalism has gone into retreat.

Anti-foundationalists, usually but not necessarily associated with post- modernism, reject the idea that there is a moral and rational high point from which all values and claims to knowledge can be judged. John Gray has proclaimed that the enlightenment project is self-destroying, in that its tendency towards relentless critique cannot but be applied to its own foundations, leading to nihilism and, he warns, violence.

The implication of anti-foundationalism is that political theory is not so much an accumulating body of knowledge, to which major thinkers and traditions have contributed; rather in so far as it exists at all , it is a dialogue or conversation in which human beings share their differing viewpoints and understandings with one another.

Concepts and Theories in Politics 13 Summary 1 Politics is, in part, a struggle over the legitimate meaning of terms and concepts. Language is often used as a political weapon; words are seldom neutral but carry political and ideological baggage. If a scientific vocabulary of politics is difficult to achieve, the least we can do is be clear about the words we use and the meanings we assign to them.

Concepts are sometimes abstract models or ideal-types, which only approximate to the reality they help to understand. While political theory involves the analytical study of ideas and concepts, both normative and descriptive, political philosophy attempts to refine our under- standing of such ideas and concepts in the hope of advancing political wisdom.

Threatened in the mid twentieth century by positi- vism, which suggested that the entire tradition of normative political thought is meaningless, political theory revived after the s. However, it has subsequently become increasingly diffuse and fragmented, as the status of liberalism has been challenged by the emergence of rival schools. More radically, anti-foundationists have attacked Enlightenment rationalism.

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Further reading Bellamy, R. Manchester University Press, Goodin, R.

An Anthology. Blackwell, Held, D. Political Theory Today. Polity Press, Heywood, A. Political Ideologies: An Introduction, 3rd edn.

Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Kymlicka, W. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction. Morrow, J. History of Political Thought: A Thematic Introduction. Political Theory in Transition. Routledge, Plant, R. Modern Political Thought. Stirk, P. Pinter, Chapter 2 Human Nature, the Individual and Society Introduction Human nature The individual Society Summary Further reading Introduction Throughout this book, and indeed throughout political theory, there is a recurrent theme: This touches on almost all political debates and controversies — the nature of justice, the proper realm of freedom, the desirability of equality, the value of politics, and so forth.

Almost all political doctrines and beliefs are based upon some kind of theory of human nature, sometimes explicitly formu- lated but in many cases simply implied. To do otherwise would be to take the complex and perhaps unpredictable human element out of politics.

However, the concept of human nature has also been a source of great difficulty for political theorists. Models of human nature have varied consider- ably, and each model has radically different implications for how social and poli- tical life should be organized. Are human beings, for instance, selfish or sociable, rational or irrational, essentially moral or basically corrupt? Are they, at heart, political animals or private beings? The answers to such questions bear heavily upon the relationship between the individual and society.

In particular, how much of human behaviour is shaped by natural or innate forces, and how much is conditioned by the social environment? Although opinions may differ about the content of human nature, the concept itself has a clear and coherent meaning. Human nature refers to the essential and immutable character of all human beings. This does not, however, mean that those who believe that human behaviour is shaped more by society than it is by unchanging and inborn characteristics have abandoned the idea of human nature altogether.

Indeed, this very assertion is based upon clear assumptions about innate human qualities, in this case, the capacity to be shaped or moulded by external factors.

A limited number of political thinkers have, nevertheless, openly rejected the idea of human nature. To employ a concept of human nature is not, however, to reduce human life to a one-dimensional caricature.

Most political thinkers are clearly aware that human beings are complex, multi-faceted creatures, made up of biological, physical, psychological, intellectual, social and perhaps spiritual elements.

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It would seem reasonable, moreover, that if any such thing as a human core exists it should be manifest in human behaviour.

Human nature should therefore be reflected in behavioural patterns that are regular and distinctively human. However, this may not always be the case. For instance, despite abundant evidence of greedy and selfish behaviour, socialists still hold to the belief that human beings are cooperative and sociable, arguing that such behaviour is socially conditioned and not natural.

In this light, it is important to remember that in no sense is human nature a descriptive or scientific concept. All models of human nature are therefore 16 Political Theory Endless discussion has taken place about the nature of human beings. Certain debates have been nevertheless particularly relevant to political theory. Are human beings the product of innate or biological factors, or are they fashioned by education and social experience?

Clearly, such a question has profound implications for the relationship between the individual and society.

Important questions have also been asked about the degree to which human behaviour is determined by reason, questions which bear heavily upon issues such as individual liberty and personal autonomy.

Are human beings rational creatures, guided by reason, argument and calculation, or are they in some way prisoners of non- rational drives and passions? Finally, there are questions about the impulses or motivations which dominate human behaviour. In particular, are human beings naturally selfish and egoistical, or are they essentially cooperative, altruistic and sociable? Such considerations are crucial in determining the proper organization of economic and social life, including the distribution of wealth and other resources.

Nature versus nurture The most recurrent, and perhaps most fundamental debate about human nature relates to what factors or forces shape it. The political significance of such a belief is considerable.

In the first place, it implies that political and social theories should be constructed on the basis of a pre-established concept of human nature. Quite simply, human beings do not reflect society, society reflects human nature. Secondly, it suggests that the roots of political understanding lie in the natural sciences in general, and in biology in particular.


This helps to explain why biological theories of politics have grown in popularity in the twentieth century. Without doubt, the biological theory that has had greatest impact upon political and social thought has been the theory of natural selection, developed by Charles Darwin —82 in On the Origin of Species [] He suggested that each species develops through a series of random genetic mutations, some of which Human Nature, the Individual and Society 17 Although Darwin appears to have recognized that his theories had radical political implications, he chose not to develop them himself.

The first attempt to advance a theory of social Darwinism was undertaken by Herbert Spencer — in The Man Versus the State [] Success and failure, wealth and poverty are, in this sense, biologically determined; and tampering with this process of natural selection will only serve to weaken the species.

Such ideas deeply influenced classical liberalism see p.

Social Darwinism also helped to shape the fascist belief in an unending struggle amongst the various nations or races of the world. In the twentieth century, political theories were increasingly influenced by biological ideas. For example, ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz and Niko Timbergen advanced theories about human behaviour on the basis of detailed studies of animal behaviour.

In On Aggression , Lorenz suggested that aggression was a natural drive found in all species, including the human species. Popularized by writers like Robert Ardrey, such ideas had considerable impact upon explanations of war and social violence by presenting such behaviour as instinctual and territorial.

Dawkins suggested that both selfishness and altruism have their origins in biology. In most cases, these biological theories embrace universalism; they hold that human beings share a common or universal character, based upon their genetic inheritance. Other theories, however, hold that there are fundamental biological differences among human beings, and that these are of political significance.

This applies in the case of racialist theories which treat the various races as if they are distinct species. Racialists suggest that there are basic genetic differences amongst the races of the world, reflected in their unequal physical, psychological and intellectual inheritance.

One school of radical feminism see p.

Sexual inequality is not therefore based upon social conditioning but rather on the biological disposition of the male sex to dominate, exploit and oppress the female sex. The significance of such theories is to shift political under- standing away from biology and towards sociology. Political behaviour tells us less about an immutable human essence than it does about the structure of society.

Moreover, by releasing humankind from its biological chains, such theories often have optimistic, if not openly utopian, implications. Evils such as poverty, social conflict, political oppression and gender inequality can be overcome precisely because their origins are social and not biological. In the writings of Karl Marx see p.

However, Marx did not believe human nature to be a passive reflection of its material environment. Rather, human beings are workers, homo faber, constantly engaged in shaping and reshaping the world in which they live. The majority of feminists also subscribe to the view that human behaviour is in most cases conditioned by social factors. The picture of human nature as essentially malleable, shaped by social factors, has also been endorsed by behavioural psychologists, such as I.

Pavlov, John Watson and B. They argue that human behaviour is explicable simply in terms of conditioned reactions or reflexes, for which reason human nature bears the imprint of its environment. The US psychologist B. Intellect versus instinct The second debate centres upon the role of rationality in human life. This does not, however, come down to a choice between rationalism and irrationalism.

The real issue is the degree to which the reasoning mind influences human conduct, suggesting a distinction between those who emphasize thinking, analysis and rational calculation, and those who highlight the role of impulse, instincts or other non-rational drives.

Indeed, many such theories are advanced in eminently rationalist, even scientific, terms. Faith in the power of human reason reached its high point during the Enlightenment, the so-called Age of Reason, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

During that period, philosophers and political thinkers turned away from religious dogmas and faith, and instead based their ideas upon rationalism, the belief that the workings of the physical 20 Political Theory In this view, human beings are essentially rational creatures, guided by intellect and a process of argument, analysis and debate. Rationalism implies that human beings possess the capacity to fashion their own lives and their own worlds.

If human beings are reason-driven creatures they clearly enjoy free will and self-determination: Rationalist theories of human nature therefore tend to underline the importance of individual freedom and autonomy. In addition, rationalism often underpins radical or revolu- tionary political doctrines. To the extent that human beings possess the capacity to understand their world, they have the ability also to improve or reform it.

The earliest rationalist ideas were developed by the philosophers of Ancient Greece. Plato, for example, argued that the best possible form of government would be an enlightened despotism, rule by an intellectual elite, the philosopher-kings. Plato was born of an aristocratic family.

Politics (4th ed.)

He became a follower of Socrates, who is the principal figure in his ethical and philosophical dialogues. In his view, knowledge and virtue are one. In The Laws, he advocated a system of mixed government, but continued to emphasize the subordination of the individual to the state and law. Liberal thinkers, such as J. Mill see p. This, for instance, explains why Mill himself placed so much faith in individual liberty: In the same way, he argued in favour of female suffrage, on the grounds that, like men, women are rational and so are entitled to exercise political influence.

In turn, socialist theories also built upon rationalist foundations. This was most evident in the writings of Marx and Engels see p. This vision of human beings as thinking machines has, however, attracted growing criticism since the late nineteenth century.

The Enlight- enment dream of an ordered, rational and tolerant world was badly dented by the persistence of conflict and social deprivation and the emergence of powerful and seemingly non-rational forces such as nationalism and racialism. This led to growing interest in the influence which emotion, instinct and other psychological drives exert upon politics. In some respects, however, this development built upon an established tradition, found mainly among conservative thinkers, that had always disparaged the mania for rationalism.

Edmund Burke see p. In short, the world is unfathomable, too intricate and too confusing for the human mind fully to unravel. Such a view has deeply conservative implications. If the rationalist theories dreamed up by liberals and socialists are unconvincing, human beings are wise to place their faith in tradition and custom, the known. Revolution and even reform are a journey into the unknown; the maps we have been given are simply unreliable. At the same time, conservative theorists were among the first to acknowledge the power of the non-rational.

Thomas Hobbes see p. In his view, human beings are driven by non-rational appetites: This essentially pessimistic view of human 22 Political Theory Burke also emphasized the degree to which unreasoned sentiments and even prejudice play a role in structuring social life. Some modern biologists have offered a scientific explanation for such beliefs.

Konrad Lorenz, in particular, argued that aggression is a form of biologically adapted behaviour which has developed through the process of evolution. Some of the most influential theories to stress the impact of non-rational drives upon human behaviour were associated with Freudian psychology, developed in the early twentieth century.

Sigmund Freud — drew attention to the distinction between the conscious mind, which carried out rational calculations and judgements, and the unconscious mind, which contained repressed memories and a range of powerful psychological drives.

In particular, Freud highlighted the importance of human sexuality, represented by the id, the most primitive instinct within the unconscious, and libido, psychic energies emanating from the id and usually associated with sexual desire or energy. While Freud himself emphasized the therapeutic aspect of these ideas, developing a series of techniques, popularly known as psychoanalysis, others have seized upon their political significance.

Competition versus cooperation The third area of disagreement centres upon whether human beings are essentially self-seeking and egoistical, or naturally sociable and coopera- tive. This debate is of fundamental political importance because these contrasting theories of human nature support radically different forms of economic and social organization.

If human beings are naturally self- interested, competition among them is an inevitable feature of social life and, in certain respects, a healthy one. Such a theory of human nature is, moreover, closely linked to individualist ideas such as natural rights and private property, and has often been used as a justification for a market or Human Nature, the Individual and Society 23 Theories which portray human nature as self-interested or self-seeking can be found among the Ancient Greeks, expressed particularly by some of the Sophists.

However, they were developed most systematically in the early modern period.The philosophical tradition in the study of politics had previously been thought of as an analysis, through the ages, of a number of perennial problems — most obviously, the nature of justice, the grounds of political obligation, the proper balance between liberty and equality, and so on. Concepts and Theories in Politics 5 Power, Authority and Legitimacy 6.

One school of radical feminism see p. But at the same time, politics is seen as the means through which injustice and domination can be challenged.

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