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Plato’s The Republic

In the Republic, Plato's Socrates raises a number of objections to democracy. He claims that
democracy is a danger due to excessive freedom. He also argues that in a system in which everyone
has a right to rule, all sorts of selfish people who care nothing for the people but are only motivated by
their own personal desires are able to attain power. He concludes that democracy risks
bringing dictators, tyrants, and demagogues to power. He also claims that democracies have leaders
without proper skills or morals and that it is quite unlikely that the best equipped to rule will come to

Plato, through the character of Socrates, gives an analogy related to democracy: he asks us to imagine
a ship whose owner surpasses all those on the ship in height and strength, but is slightly deaf; his vision
is similarly impaired and his knowledge of navigation is just as bad. He then asks us to imagine the
sailors, all of which are arguing about who should have control of the helm while none of them have
studied navigation. The sailors don't even know that there is such a thing as the craft of navigation. All
the sailors try to convince the owner to give control of the ship over to them, and whoever convinces
him becomes the navigator or captain. They manipulate and trick the owner into giving over the helm.
The true captain, the one with the knowledge of navigation is seen as a useless stargazer and never
becomes the helmsman. The true captain represents a philosopher-king, who knows the forms of
justice and goodness.

2. Aristotle's Classification of Government

Aristotle defined 6 types of government. 3 of them were ideal forms of governance, and were completely
virtuous. The other 3 were the corrupt versions of the ideal governments. According to Aristotle, the 6
forms of government are:

1) Aristocracy means the virtuous rule of the few best citizens. They would prove to be morally and
intellectually superior, and govern in the interest of the entire population.

2) Oligarchy is the corrupt form of an Aristocracy. It is ruled by a few wealthy self-interested individuals,
who disregard the less fortunate.

3) Monarchy means the rule of one virtuous ruler. The king or queen would be exceptionally talented
at ruling, and would keep the best interests of all citizens in mind.

4) Tyranny is the corrupt form of a Monarchy. It is ruled by a self-interested ruler, with complete
disregard of everyone else.

5) Constitutional Government means the virtuous rule by the entire populace, where the masses are
granted citizenship and govern with everyone's interest in mind. It combines elements of oligarchy and
democracy, where compromises between the rich and the poor can be made.

6) Demagoguery is the corrupt form of a Constitutional Government. In a demagoguery, everyone's

voice is equal, and the voice of the majority is above the law. If a charismatic leader were to take control
of the populace, the leader would become a tyrant.

Aristotle based his political theory around the governance of city-states. He believed that city-states
were a natural part of human existence, and more fundamental to human existence than the individual.
Governments today are mixed governments, with their constitutions governing population sizes far
greater than Aristotle could have imagined.
3. Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince
He formulated his own theory of effective government in a treatise known as "The Prince," and he based
his ideal "Prince" on Cesare Borgia's life. He famously asserted that good rulers sometimes have to learn
"not to be good," they have to be willing to set aside ethical concerns of justice, honesty, and kindness in
order to maintain the stability of the state. The idea was shocking to contemporaries, who had inherited
medieval ideas about divine kingship, in which the king was appointed by God for the express purpose of
serving as a sort of celestial deputy on earth, upholding law and justice. In popular medieval belief, the king
was thought to be a "primate," an avatar of human virtue with innate authority over lesser beings in the
cosmological hierarchy. In contrast, Machiavelli argued that the most successful kings were not the ones
who acted according to dictates of law, or justice, or conscience, but those willing to do whatever was
necessary to preserve their own power--and thus indirectly preserve the order of the state. His title, "The
Prince," in fact, is a subtle mockery of the idea that rulers should be noble in their character. The implication
of his title is that the idealized Prince Charming is a mere fairy tale. Machiavelli was excommunicated for
espousing his views, but his arguments had a profound effect on Renaissance attitudes toward
government. In literature such as Renaissance drama, the "machiavelle," or machiavellian villain, became
a moustache-twirling stereotypical villain--the bad guy who appears to be good in front of all his companions
in order to betray them all the more effectively. "Machiavellian" became a by-word for treachery,
sneakiness, ambition, and ruthlessness.

4. Comparision of the Theory of Social Contract of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean
Jacques Rousseau

1. Hobbes asserts that without subjection to a common power of their rights and
freedoms, men are necessarily at war. Locke and Rousseau, on the contrary, set
forth the view that the state exists to preserve and protect the natural rights of
its citizens. When governments fail in that task, citizens have the right and
sometimes the duty to withdraw their support and even to rebel.

2. Hobbes view was that whatever the state does is just. All of society is a direct
creation of the state, and a reflection of the will of the ruler. According to Locke,
the only important role of the state is to ensure that justice is seen to be done.
While Rousseau view is that the State must in all circumstance ensure freedom
and liberty of individuals.

3. Hobbes theory of Social Contract supports absolute sovereign without giving any
value to individuals, while Locke and Rousseau supports individual than the
state or the government.
4. To Hobbes, the sovereign and the government are identical but Rousseau makes
a distinction between the two. He rules out a representative form of government.
But, Locke does not make any such distinction.

5. Rousseaus view of sovereignty was a compromise between the

constitutionalism of Locke and absolutism of Hobbes.

1. Rousseau propounded that state, law and the government are interchangeable,
but this in present senerio is different. Even though government can be
overthrown but not the state. A state exists even there is no government.
2. Hobbes concept of absolutism is totally a vague concept in present scenario.
Democracy is the need and examples may be taken from Burma and other
3. According to Hobbes, the sovereign should have absolute authority. This is
against the rule of law because absolute power in one authority brings
4. Locke concept of State of nature is vague as any conflict with regard to property
always leads to havoc in any society. Hence, there cannot be a society in peace if
they have been conflict with regard to property.
5. Locke concept of laissez-faire is not of welfare oriented. Now in present scenario,
every state undertake steps to form a welfare state.

5. John Stuart Mill’s Political Philosophy

-- Mill embraces the political philosophy of “classical liberalism.” Classical liberalism holds that in order
for the state to be fully just, it must protect and respect individuals’ rights. These rights include:

 one person/one vote, and anyone can run for public office. In short, democracy.
 ownership of one’s own body and labor power. In short, no slavery.
 private ownership of natural resources (land, coal, etc.) and capital resources (tools, factories,
railroads, etc.), and a right of every person to engage in “free exchange” with other persons. In
short, a capitalist economic system.
 the rule of law, due process of law, a “fair trial” if one is accused of a crime, free speech; speech
should seldom if ever be restricted on the grounds that it advocates a viewpoint that is
“dangerous,” false, and/or immoral, offensive to others, or unpopular. No “viewpoint-based”
 a sphere of personal privacy or liberty that includes (at the very least) decisions about which
religion, if any, to adopt.
-- Classical liberalism insists that the rights of individuals to due process, free speech, freedom of religion,
etc. are nearly absolute. One thing that does not justify violating them is the will of the majority. Majority
rule should be limited by the requirement that individual and minority rights may not be violated. Another
thing that does not justify the violation of individuals’ rights is “the greater good of the community.”
--Mill wants to defend what he calls “one, very simple principle of liberty” (p. 510). What is this principle?
The only good reason that the state could ever have to restrict an individual’s liberty is to prevent harm to
other, nonconsenting persons.
-- To understand Mill’s principle, it will help to distinguish 3 different principles:
1. the harm (to others) principle—the state is justified in restricting a person’s liberty to prevent harm to
other, nonconsenting persons.
2. the paternalism principle—the state is justified in restricting the liberty of a competent adult, even if he
threatens no harm to others, simply to prevent him from harming himself.
3. the legal moralism principle—the state is justified in restricting a person’s liberty, even in cases where
there is no danger of his harming others or himself, simply to prevent him from doing something that is
“intrinsicially immoral” (i.e. immoral even though it harms no one).