POL1004F: Introduction to Politics
26 February 2014
Word Count: 360
The crises of stability in society, authority by rulers and legitimacy by governments have through history inspired the exploration of power, authority and legitimacy. [Spragen, 1997,20]. These concepts are explored through the perspectives of Niccolo Machiavelli who provides insight on power, John Locke who states the manner in which authority( the right to rule) is established, Thomas Hobbes, who shares the means in which authority's maintained and Plato with his idea of legitimacy- rightfulness in rule.
Machiavelli wrote an ontological political thesis of what power is observing that the manifestation of social conflict was because of the lust for domination which innately exists within any state and the majority[Barnett, History view, 2007]. He concluded a ruler’s key concern was thus their survival and stability even if it involved being “less than virtuous”. [Barnett, History view, 2007] Locke looked at authority believing it could only be gained if those in society handed over their powers through a social contract. This meant the government would rule by the consent of the ruled and had the obligation to serve and protect society in order for society to obey it in return. The society could thus remove the ruler’s power through revolution should it exceed its scope of authority, not keeping to its obligations and thus dissolving the contract[Tuckness, 2012]; Hobbes differs from Locke here believing that people are innately corrupt and the ruler must thus use their power to assert their authority (no matter how it is that they gained power).[Lloyed, 2014] Plato however believed that individuals are not created equal and that only a few can rule and hold power and also in the notion of the good. He believed that only those wise and cable of rule, such as philosophers, should hold power and that they should live restricted lives serving the society and veering...
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