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Influential Philosophers Foundations of American Government.

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Presentation on theme: "Influential Philosophers Foundations of American Government."— Presentation transcript:

1 Influential Philosophers Foundations of American Government

2 Ancient Greece  The early Athenians believed in individual freedom within the boundaries of law  508 BC = Athens became one of the first city- states to establish a democracy*  Aristotle: widely regarded as the most brilliant philosopher in Western thought.  Believed humans to be naturally social & political due to 1) reasoned speech & 2) moral thought.

3 Index Card Question…  What form of government did the Ancient Greeks provide our “founding” Fathers?

4 Aristotle 384B.C.-322B.C.  Ruling is noble  Social relationships & the cultivation of ethics: friendship

5 Aristotle(cont.)  Nicomachean Ethics: ten books which discuss “virtues”.  In order to become “good”, one cannot simply study what virtue is; one must actually do virtuous deeds.  Emphasizes the importance of context to ethical behavior – what might be right in one situation might be wrong in another.

6 Early Roman Republic  509 BC  Consisted of three parts: 2 consuls, equal in authority, elected for 1 year; the Senate, a 50 member oligarchy, and the citizens, organized into assemblies  Mixed form of government  Early Rome civilization responsible for the idea of a republican government.

7 Index Card Question…  What idea was created by the early Roman Civilization?

8 Magna Carta 1215  We the People pages Important terms: *feudalism *monarchy *representative government

9 Magna Carta: Key Points  1. First time the English people had placed limits on the power of the government*  2. The rule of law: both parties must comply with laws. Places limits on the power of government!

10 Index Card Question…  Why was the Magna Carta important?

11 Key Vocabulary  tyranny – abuse of power  absolute power – power without limits

12 Niccolo Machiavelli

13 Machiavelli  “I say, therefore, that all these kinds of government are harmful in consequence of the short life of the three good ones and the viciousness of the three bad ones. Having noted these failings, prudent lawgivers rejected each of these forms individually and chose instead to combine them into one that would be firmer and more stable than any, since each form would serve as a check upon the others in a state having monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy at one and the same time.”  -- Nicollo Machiavelli The Prince

14 Machiavelli  Both of his best known works (Il Principe and Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio) are analyses of government.  Name has become synonomous with amorality and corruption.  Machiavelli introduced the idea of situational ethics – the ends justify the means.

15 Index Card Question…  What was Machiavelli's political belief?

16 John Calvin

17 John Calvin  Most influential thinker of the Protestant reformation  Believed church and state were both under the authority of Christ  Believed the job of governments was a sacred calling  Calvin's life was a blend of religion & politics

18 John Locke

19 John Locke ( )  Wrote Two Treatises of Government  Proposed that government rests on popular consent and rebellion is permissible when government subverts the ends (protection of life, liberty, and property) for which it is established.  Believed that public welfare made government necessary

20 John Locke  Locke wrote extensively about natural rights: the rights to life, liberty, and property which all people have because they are human beings.  Locke also wrote about a situation he called state of nature – the absence of government and law.  Locke said the purpose of government was to protect the rights of the people (natural rights)*.

21 Index Cards…  What was John Locke’s political belief?  What was the term John Locke used to describe everyone’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property)?  What was Locke’s idea of social contract (look at notes from yesterday)?

22 English Bill of Rights  Passed by Parliament in The laws are supreme and apply to citizens and government alike.*  Gave certain rights to Englishmen & further limited the powers of the monarch.  The EBOR gave Parliament the balance of power in the government.

23 Specific Rights  1.right to trial before a neutral judge and jury  2.protection of life, liberty, and property from illegal procedures;  3.right to information, particularly about accusations;  4.the idea that one is innocent until proven guilty  5.right to be represented by counsel and to call witnesses in defense.

24 EBOR  Disallowed kings/queens from: *collecting taxes without permission of Parliament; *interfering with free speech & debate in Parliament; *maintaining an army in times of peace; *requiring excessive bail or administering cruel punishment; *overturning laws made by Parliament.

25 Index Card  EBOR (English Bill of Rights) stated that law is supreme and applies to who?

26 Thomas Hobbes

27 Thomas Hobbes  Born in London, educated at Oxford  Wrote Leviathan in 1651  Believed in an absolute monarchy  “All mankind [is in] a perpetual and restless desire for power…that [stops] only in death.”  Believed that humans (and nations) were basically selfish and would do anything to better their position.

28 Hobbes Social Contract Theory  Governments were created, according to Hobbes, to protect people from their own selfishness.  Distrusted democracy, but believed that a diverse group of representatives presenting common problems would prevent a monarch from being cruel and unfair.

29 Index Cards….  Describe Hobbes’ view of state of nature?  What form of government did Hobbes’ support in his book Leviathan?

30 Montesquieu

31 Baron de Montesquieu  Believed that all things were made up of rules or laws that never changed.  According to Montesquieu, there were 3 types of government: monarchy, republic, and despotism.  Believed that a government elected by the people was the best form.  The success of a democracy was contingent on maintaining the right balance of power.

32 Monty’s Idea!!!  Separate the powers of government among different branches; each should represent different interests in society.  Balance the powers among the branches so no one branch could control the others.  Give each branch ways to check the use of power by the other branches.

33 Index Cards….  What was the name of Montesquieu’s term for dividing government into different branches of government?

34 Rousseau

35 Jean-Jacques Rousseau  Believed that man was good by nature – “a noble savage” – corrupted by society.  Society changes man’s amour de soi (positive self-love), into propre (pride).  Believed that humans would degenerate & perish unless they join together in social contract, abandoning claims of natural right.  Believed in popular sovereignty & the government’s role as enforcing the general will of the people.

36 Index Card…  What political philosopher believed humans would perish (die) without a social contract?

37 What do you think? Homework: Write a short essay explaining who your favorite philosopher is and WHY. In other words, you must defend your answer.


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