Western political philosophy to the end of the 19th century Antiquity Although in antiquity great civilizations arose in Egypt and Mesopotamia, in the Indus Valley, and in Chinathere was little speculation about the problems of political philosophy as formulated in the West. The Code of Hammurabi c. To be sure, the Buddhist concept of dharma social custom and dutywhich inspired the Indian emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century bce, implies a moralization of public power, and the teachings of Confucius in the 6th century bce are a code of conduct designed to stabilize society, but there is not, outside Europemuch speculation about the basis of political obligation and the purpose of the state, with both of which Western political philosophy is mainly concerned. An authoritarian society is taken for granted, backed by religious sanctions, and a conservative and arbitrary power is generally accepted.
Support for laissez-faire commerce and free markets were expressed by politicians sitting on the left because these represented policies favorable to capitalists rather than to the aristocracy, but outside parliamentary politics these views are often characterized as being on the Right.
The reason for this apparent contradiction lies in the fact that Political obligation essay "to the left" of the parliamentary left, outside official parliamentary structures such as the sans-culottes of the French Revolutiontypically represent much of the working class, poor peasantry and the unemployed.
Their political interests in the French Revolution lay with opposition to the aristocracy and so they found themselves allied with the early capitalists. However, this did not mean that their economic interests lay with the laissez-faire policies of those representing them politically.
As capitalist economies developed, the aristocracy became less relevant and were mostly replaced by capitalist representatives. The size of the working class increased as capitalism expanded and began to find expression partly through trade unionist, socialist, anarchist and communist politics rather than being confined to the capitalist policies expressed by the original "left".
This evolution has often pulled parliamentary politicians away from laissez-faire economic policies, although this has happened to different degrees in different countries, especially those with a history of issues with more authoritarian-left countries, such as the Soviet Union or China under Mao Zedong.
Thus the word " Left " in American political parlance may refer to "liberalism" and be identified with the Democratic Partywhereas in a country such as France these positions would be regarded as relatively more right-wing, or centrist overall, and "left" is more likely to refer to "socialist" or "social-democratic" positions rather than "liberal" ones.
Academic investigation[ edit ] For almost a century, social scientists have considered the problem of how best to describe political variation.
Ferguson[ edit ] InLeonard W. Ferguson analyzed political values using ten scales measuring attitudes toward: Submitting the results to factor analysishe was able to identify three factors, which he named religionismhumanitarianism and nationalism. He defined religionism as belief in God and negative attitudes toward evolution and birth control ; humanitarianism as being related to attitudes opposing war, capital punishment and harsh treatment of criminals ; and nationalism as describing variation in opinions on censorship, law, patriotism and communism.
This system was derived empirically, as rather than devising a political model on purely theoretical grounds and testing it, Ferguson's research was exploratory. As a result of this method, care must be taken in the interpretation of Ferguson's three factors, as factor analysis will output an abstract factor whether an objectively real factor exists or not.
He believed that there was something essentially similar about the National Socialists Nazis on the one hand and the communists on the other, despite their opposite positions on the left—right axis.
As Hans Eysenck described in his book Sense and Nonsense in Psychology,  Eysenck compiled a list of political statements found in newspapers and political tracts and asked subjects to rate their agreement or disagreement with each.
Submitting this value questionnaire to the same process of factor analysis used by Ferguson, Eysenck drew out two factors, which he named "Radicalism" R-factor and "Tender-Mindedess" T-factor. Such analysis produces a factor whether or not it corresponds to a real-world phenomenon and so caution must be exercised in its interpretation.
While Eysenck's R-factor is easily identified as the classical "left—right" dimension, the T-factor representing a factor drawn at right angles to the R-factor is less intuitive, as high-scorers favored pacifismracial equalityreligious education and restrictions on abortionwhile low-scorers had attitudes more friendly to militarismharsh punishmenteasier divorce laws and companionate marriage.
Despite the difference in methodologylocation and theorythe results attained by Eysenck and Ferguson matched.
Simply rotating Eysenck's two factors 45 degrees renders the same factors of religionism and humanitarianism identified by Ferguson in America. Eysenck was an outspoken opponent of what he perceived as the authoritarian abuses of the left and right and accordingly he believed that with this T axis he had found the link between nazism and communism.
According to Eysenck, members of both ideologies were tough-minded.It is a pleasure to welcome you to our School which is at the forefront of teaching and research in the social sciences in Australia.
We have a team of dedicated academic and professional staff in the disciplines of Political Science, Criminology, Anthropology and Sociology as well as our allied research centres providing a dynamic and rewarding environment to further your studies. defending political obligation about what it is that generates the obligations, the common core of all “defender theories” is the fundamental idea that one has a moral requirement(s) to support and obey the political institutions of one’s country.
This Guide covers the basic concepts and theories in political philosophy. Below, you’ll find a short introductory essay and a series of lectures. Though they make the most sense in sequence, feel free to read and watch them in whatever order most interests you; each should stand on its own just.
Using the lives of the three outstanding French intellectuals of the twentieth century, renowned historian Tony Judt offers a unique look at how intellectuals can ignore political pressures and demonstrate a heroic commitment to personal integrity and moral responsibility unfettered by the difficult political exigencies of their time.
This special issue of Breac examines “The Great Irish Famine: Global Contexts.” It brings together leading experts in the field with support from the International Network of Irish Famine Studies.
The network was established in with funding from the Dutch research council NWO (project number ). The special issue builds on recent studies such as Marguérite Corporaal and. 1. Natural Law and Natural Rights. Perhaps the most central concept in Locke’s political philosophy is his theory of natural law and natural rights.