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Political philosophies- right? wrong? or even sane?

Updated on February 25, 2011

Back to basics

 Many political philosophers begin by concentrating on individuals. After all, societies and states are made up of individuals first, and governments must come after. Are political institutions simply the end result of attempts to fulfill the essential and universal needs of individuals?

What exactly is a state?

What is the state made up of?

How does the state function?

What is their role in the world we live in?

How do we know what our state is doing is right or wrong?

Natural communities

The word community suggests something immediate, local and praiseworthy. Political philosophers think of communities as small groups of people with shared values who enjoy solidarity with little need of laws or hierarchical chains of command.

Society and state

Most modern philosophers accept that moral and political propositions have no factual or logical status. Hence, it is impossible to describe what states should be or define what ought to be our relationship with them. So providing definitive answers to political and social “problems” must be ruled out. There is no right or wrong answer; it’s a matter of opinion. An opinion which we no doubt develop because of the state we grew up in. 

Is it possible that we are all “social animals” but not necessarily political ones? Where is the evidence for non-political societies? Or is this an idealistic fantasy? Some philosophers believe that distinctions made between society and state only lead to confusion. Societies can only exist if they are political. Power- and who has it- are features of human life that will never go away.

Is democracy still best?

Most of us still think that democracy is a good idea and preferable to all other political ideologies on offer.

One true mark of a “healthy society” may be that its educated citizens engage in debate rather than passively obey orders. Democracies also enable citizens to remove corrupt or incompetent governments, without the need for violent revolution or civil war.

BUT if you think that voters have become directionless consumers influenced by spin doctors, or feel that politicians are now just populists led by pressure groups, then welcome to my world.

Economic Equality

 In the ideal society the majority of citizens should be of “middle wealth”. This would make sure that political equality would not be undermined by economic inequality. Because then this leads to an oligarchies society, a society run by the rich, and not a democracy.


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    • jaskar profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      "Political philosophy" is named such because in 400BC when they 1st became a proffesion they had to seperate themselves from others, such as ones who studied the stars or nature for signs.

      although nearly all philosophers have been part of the elite i think that many of them do a good job of "summing up" the society, and it systems, of their time.

      some philosophers live with their head in the clouds and yet their work gets widely published. the Weber children are a good example of that.

    • Dutch Hermit profile image

      Dutch Hermit 

      8 years ago from Utrecht

      Political philosophy might even be the main philosophy, as far as I am concerned. As far as I know all philosophers of any meaning, are part of the elite. All they write is about the elite from the viewpoint of the elite. In other words, society, Joe the Plumber and alikes, are not part of the game. When philosophers, as the elite, write or study on politics, they are working on their natural habitat. They are looking how to make the political elite less absolute (like in democracy) or to make the elite more happy (like in dictatorship). Anyway, philosophers should think about their natural habitat and therefore, be political.


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