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This work of the Elements of Politics shows that Sidgwick's utilitarianism is clearly , as Utilitarianism is in general: liberal. John Stuart Mill is considered to be the.
Table of contents



Jeff McMahan - - Philosophia 34 1: What Is Realistic Political Philosophy? David Runciman - - Metaphilosophy 43 Temporary Migrants, Partial Citizenship and Hypermigration. Reflections on Political Theory: A Voice of Reason From the Past.

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THE ELEMENTS OF POLITICS.*

Neal Wood - - Palgrave. The Mythological State and its Empire. David Grant - - Routledge. Ross John Swartz Hoffman - - London: The Changing Architecture of Politics: Structure, Agency, and the Future of the State.

Political Ideology: Crash Course Government and Politics #35

Cerny - - Sage Publications. The Elements of Politics are a general and quiet a complete treaty which concerns the general problems noticed in a modern political society with a representative government. It shows the ambiguity of the second half of the 19th century: The rules and the concept of law are always thought by Sidgwick in order to avoid mischief as much as possible and keep the country from being paralysed with political dead-end conflicts.

THE ELEMENTS OF POLITICS.* » 12 Dec » The Spectator Archive

And when there is no possible law to stop the birth of corruption or nonsense conflicts, he turns to the moral law which can help avoiding certain kind of trouble within the social community. The moral law works with the positive law as they complete each other allowing the government to have a better control over the people. It is unavoidable to declare that every citizen is not suppose to ignore the law, or else any one could bring this excuse in front of a Court of Law to get away without sentence for his mischief.

Every one is aware of the law and is supposed to know what is forbidden and what is permitted to be done.

The Elements of Politics

As the author admits: Great knowledge of law needs special education like the one that lawyers receive, but even with a high level of practice there is no lawyer who knows perfectly the law. The role of moral law consists, among other functions of maintaining certain moral standards, in educating the simplest people to have a basic knowledge of law. The notion of moral law consists in the rules created by popular opinion: The moral law follows the evolution of society and can be different according to the social class, the geographical location, the history of the community and so on… The moral law is the natural consciousness of the people, and as they live together, they need to settle some rules to be able to live together as peacefully as possible.

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The role of morality lies also in the education of others, as the community permits with moral law that the most uneducated person is aware that such acts as killing, stilling or lying are wrong and cannot be done or else the society will morally blame him as the positive law will punish him.

There we reach the difference between positive law and moral law. The former consists in the rules of the country one lives in: The latter is constituted of rules that are neither official nor written, that change quite fast, as when someone changes from one region to the other, he has to get use to the mentality and the moral law of the new region he is visiting. The main difference between the two forms of law resides in the punishment: The moral law educates and prevent mischievous acts, using the fear of being ashamed and excluded; and the positive law is the second and most severe punishment for those who broke the moral and the positive law.

We could debate about the worse punishment whether it is the exclusion of the community or death sentence; is it worth to live banished from the community or is dying worse? Sidgwick wants the law to be modern as every one of the society is to be represented, but on the other hand he wants the moral law to keep its role in the society.

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It could be said that the philosopher wants the institutions and the law to evolve toward a new area while he wants to retain these reformes with the moral traditions… This is the ambiguity: We reach here the second part of this discussion which concerns another worry of the author in a representative system: This is a very difficult fact: Sidgwick thinks that the functions of government cannot be correctly fulfilled without certain qualifications and intellectual abilities; these abilities are most commonly found in the upper classes which can afford to pay higher education; the poorer classes show a low level of education.

The dilemma lies in the problem of having in the same time qualified persons in the government and an equality of representation in all classes of the society. Sidgwick is conscious that a modern society cannot be politically constituted if all the citizens are no represented and on the other hand he believes that the country cannot be correctly led if the members of the parliament are not sufficiently qualified.

And as the wealthy minority is always the best educated; it seems that the rich people would be the best one who could work in the government, but if this happens, the poor majority will be dominated by the rich minority.


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It also seems obvious that the majority of the citizens are not qualified enough to know if a campaigner can govern the country properly or not. There are few solutions discussed in The Elements of Politics , both in the first and second part of the treaty, as this problem concerns the legal administration and organisation of the country as well as the practical function of a government.

First the author thinks that the more parliamentary representatives there are the less the lack of qualification is a drawback as it is diluted in the number; and the more numerous they are the more chances we get to have more qualified ones than unqualified. The next argument consists in asking a minimum of education to be authorized as a campaigner for parliamentary elections: The question then becomes: Are there circum- stances under which men ought to be prevented forming Associations for the purpose of doing things which they have a right to do as individuals?

Sidgwick, if he does.


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  4. Combination is, in fact, the only way by which the poor can place themselves on a par with the rich in bargaining. Now, we can hardly lay down as a general rule that individuals are not to be influenced in buying by con- siderations other than the quality of the article purchased, and the labour spent in purchasing it; or in selling by considerations other than the price: Thus a man must be generally allowed to exchange with A rather than B, for the sake of con- sanguinity, or friendship, or because A promotes his convenience in other ways, or because B is surly and ill-mannered: He must be generally allowed to prefer an employer who employs his friends: He must be generally allowed to sell on unremunerative terms in order to draw business away from his rivals: And if such prevention is impossible in the case of an individual, it will be difficult to make it equitable, even if it be possible, in the case of an association,—for the economic reason above stated.

    Sidg- wick next deals with the question of Associations which are not formed voluntarily, but under pressure: And it could hardly be expedient to require judicial proof of the presence of such vice in order to justify this concerted exclusion: I conclude, therefore, that the moral coercion exercised both by individuals and by associations, so far as it is effected by acts legitimate apart from their coercive intent, should not generally bo made a legal offence, if the mischief it causes can be kept within tolerable limits by any other means: In our opinion, Mr.

    The elements of politics

    Sidgwick has here laid down the true principle with great success. The rule should be, Associations may do what individuals may do, and it should only be in exceptional cases that this rule should be departed from. The subject is one of great importance, and since the judg- ments in the Mogul Steamship Company's case, there has been no more luminous contribution to its discussion than that contained in the work before us.

    Did space allow, we would willingly set forth Mr. Sidg wick's wise and judicious pronouncements upon such subjects as Non-Intervention, Protection, Free Immigration, and Party Politics.