All Academic, Inc. Research Logo

Info/CitationFAQResearchAll Academic Inc.
Document

A Clueless Electorate? Assessing the New Assault on the Reasonable Citizen
Unformatted Document Text:  Steven V. Mazie—MPSA 2008 A Clueless Electorate? The New Assault on the Reasonable Citizen Page 1 of 23 I NTRODUCTION Social contract theorists from Hobbes to Rawls proceed on the assumption that contracting parties – that is, people – are rational. Although their theoretical goals and conceptions of rationality are diverse and at times complex, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Rawls, among others, begin with the idea that individuals basically know what is good for them, and pursue it. Individuals acting rationally together, then, should be able to come to terms on the principles of a just and productive society. The rationality assumption is not the only given in social contract theories, of course. Locke takes people to be free and equal by nature, as does Rousseau (though he thinks rationality arrives on the scene a bit later), and Hobbes offers a full portrait of human nature in Part I of Leviathan that lays out in detail how we think, dream, speak, feel and reason. Scholars of political philosophy spend less time than we might expect subjecting these assumptions to critical analysis, and we find very little empirical testing of these propositions in the literature. One reason for this relative quiet is that most political theorists place themselves squarely on the “value” side of the infamous fact/value divide. Whatever characteristics of human nature a theorist might posit, the reasoning goes, we should accept them as part of the overall normative framework of the theory. That is, if we construe human beings in this way, we would conclude these things about the way they would build a society. There is little reason to inquire too deeply into the facts. Another related reason for passing over these assumptions in silence might be that they are relatively uncontroversial. Of course human beings are rational: Aristotle taught us a few thousand years ago that “the human function is the soul’s activity that expresses reason or requires reason.” 1 1 Aristotle, Ethics. 1098a5-10.

Authors: Mazie, Steven.
first   previous   Page 2 of 24   next   last



background image
Steven V. Mazie—MPSA 2008
A Clueless Electorate? The New Assault on the Reasonable Citizen
Page 1 of 23
I
NTRODUCTION
Social contract theorists from Hobbes to Rawls proceed on the assumption that
contracting parties – that is, people – are rational. Although their theoretical goals and
conceptions of rationality are diverse and at times complex, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau,
Kant and Rawls, among others, begin with the idea that individuals basically know what is
good for them, and pursue it. Individuals acting rationally together, then, should be able
to come to terms on the principles of a just and productive society. The rationality
assumption is not the only given in social contract theories, of course. Locke takes people
to be free and equal by nature, as does Rousseau (though he thinks rationality arrives on
the scene a bit later), and Hobbes offers a full portrait of human nature in Part I of
Leviathan that lays out in detail how we think, dream, speak, feel and reason. Scholars of
political philosophy spend less time than we might expect subjecting these assumptions to
critical analysis, and we find very little empirical testing of these propositions in the
literature. One reason for this relative quiet is that most political theorists place
themselves squarely on the “value” side of the infamous fact/value divide. Whatever
characteristics of human nature a theorist might posit, the reasoning goes, we should
accept them as part of the overall normative framework of the theory. That is, if we
construe human beings in this way, we would conclude these things about the way they
would build a society. There is little reason to inquire too deeply into the facts. Another
related reason for passing over these assumptions in silence might be that they are
relatively uncontroversial. Of course human beings are rational: Aristotle taught us a few
thousand years ago that “the human function is the soul’s activity that expresses reason or
requires reason.”
1
1
Aristotle, Ethics. 1098a5-10.


Convention
All Academic Convention can solve the abstract management needs for any association's annual meeting.
Submission - Custom fields, multiple submission types, tracks, audio visual, multiple upload formats, automatic conversion to pdf.
Review - Peer Review, Bulk reviewer assignment, bulk emails, ranking, z-score statistics, and multiple worksheets!
Reports - Many standard and custom reports generated while you wait. Print programs with participant indexes, event grids, and more!
Scheduling - Flexible and convenient grid scheduling within rooms and buildings. Conflict checking and advanced filtering.
Communication - Bulk email tools to help your administrators send reminders and responses. Use form letters, a message center, and much more!
Management - Search tools, duplicate people management, editing tools, submission transfers, many tools to manage a variety of conference management headaches!
Click here for more information.

first   previous   Page 2 of 24   next   last

©2012 All Academic, Inc.