Saturday, August 14, 2010

CAPTAIN....ICEBERG AHEAD

Turning the ship analogy against Plato in this way is a persuasive move, but it ultimately does not take care of Plato's challenge. For if it is plausible to argue that voters may be too uninformed to decide on the best means to reach a certain goal, then it is also plausible to argue that they may not be informed enough to choose the right ends. A serious lack of knowledge can manifest itself not only in the way a state is run, but also in the choice of destinations. What can and has to be criticized is not only a citizenry's possible ignorance of the measures that a government might take to reach certain goals, but also their ideas and expectations about where their society ought to go--what goals they want to reach as a commonwealth. The democratic election of a leader who plans to replace a capitalist democracy with a fascist warfare state, for example, is a case in point. Hitler, it is worth remembering, was elected by a democratic vote, and it is surely not irrelevant to ask whether those who voted for him did not suffer from an unacceptable degree of ignorance and lack of political education.

The democratic decision to engage in a series of expansionist wars, as sanctioned by the Athenian Assembly, is a similar case in point. What Plato witnessed as a young man was not a lack of understanding of the technicalities of governing on the part of the demos, but rather poor judgment in the choice of major goals. Major political destinies can be judged in terms of wisdom, feasibility, logic, moral responsibility, and other criteria that make the general intellectual competence of an electorate a relevant and urgent issue. It is obviously not a foregone conclusion that whatever the majority decides is also the best—or even acceptable. Both short-term and long-term expectations and decisions of a democratic polity may be quite thoughtless, ill-advised, stupid, illusory, dangerous, or outright insane. In spite of the above critique of the ship analogy, in other words, Plato's challenge to the idea of democracy stands.

Granted, then, that sound political decisions concerning means as well as ends require not only reliable knowledge of such things as economics, geography, sociology, and military strategy, but also something like moral competence, the question arises as to how this sort of preparedness can be acquired. Plato's emphatic answer is: by a sound and systematic education. No good government—democratic or otherwise

http://faculty.frostburg.edu/phil/forum/PlatoRep.htm

2 comments:

  1. "Granted, then, that sound political decisions concerning means as well as ends require not only reliable knowledge of such things as economics, geography, sociology, and military strategy, but also something like moral competence, the question arises as to how this sort of preparedness can be acquired. Plato's emphatic answer is: by a sound and systematic education. No good government—democratic or otherwise"
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    BINGO, huge difference between DEMOCRACY and LIBERTY, most people think these two concepts are one and the same, NO, NO, NO. Democracy is majority vote, if majority are clueless then you get SHIT, liberty is based on common law of:

    1) Do all you agreed to do

    2) Do not encroach on others including their property and natural rights ( domestically as well as Internationally)

    Governments always break these two rules if public is not engaged.

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  2. liberty i like democracy that is bought by free lunches has moralss in question

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