Since Rousseau expressed his concern that government, established to carry out the general will of the people, might become a separate body with its own distinct general will, members of the polity have worried from one end of the political spectrum to the other, that government is imposing its will on the people, rather than executing the people’s will. It’s not even correct to date this concern to Rousseau, since we could argue that such a concern is encapsulated in Thrasymachus’ realpolitik definition of justice — we all know, let’s be honest Socrates, that the laws serve the powerful and not those who are supposed to follow them. In these cases, government is understood to be against us, treading on us with its laws and impositions, limiting our freedom rather than protecting it.
Government and Constitution in Aristotle
Eric Schwitzgebel refers to Aristotle to talk about blameworthiness for implicit biases in his talk at the Pacific APA next week. I’m pleased to join in the appeal to Aristotle to think about contemporary political and ethical problems. My argument is that Aristotle addresses this problem of thinking the government as an imposition by arguing for an account that drives politeuma, or government, closer to an identity with the politeia, constitution or regime. Read more