s.o.s.-term paper assistance needed

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jwhy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 08:32 pm
I am needing some quick help with a term paper due in several days. I have a limited understanding of philosophical concepts as this is the first semester I have ever studied the discipline. I need to narrow the focus of my thesis, tie it to a specific philosopher (a liberal philosopher) and would like to use the notion of "justice" as a central theme. The thesis I am using is:Every intelligible individual subscribes to a sense of liberalism and individualism as evidenced by their daily behavior. Any and all suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. Thank you in advance.

jwhy
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:18 pm
@jwhy,
jwhy;157729 wrote:
I am needing some quick help with a term paper due in several days. I have a limited understanding of philosophical concepts as this is the first semester I have ever studied the discipline. I need to narrow the focus of my thesis, tie it to a specific philosopher (a liberal philosopher) and would like to use the notion of "justice" as a central theme. The thesis I am using is:Every intelligible individual subscribes to a sense of liberalism and individualism as evidenced by their daily behavior. Any and all suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. Thank you in advance.

jwhy



First thing: What is an "intelligible individual". Do you maybe mean, "intelligent individual"? Second thing: If that is what you mean, I have no idea what that sentence means. Can you explain what you mean by it? As it stands, if seems to be obviously false. There are many people on the extreme left who are intelligent, but who do not subscribe to liberalism and individualism. They subscribe exactly to the opposite. Take the people of Move On.com. or of Media Matters for obvious examples of this.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:23 pm
@jwhy,
I don't get the thesis either. It may very well be true that ever individual subscribes to a "sense of liberalism and individualism". In fact it seems like that would have to be true, if only in a minimal sense (for example, no one believes in the complete absence of individualism). I think you run the risk of your thesis not actually saying anything worthwhile.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 10:45 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;157776 wrote:
I don't get the thesis either. It may very well be true that ever individual subscribes to a "sense of liberalism and individualism". In fact it seems like that would have to be true, if only in a minimal sense (for example, no one believes in the complete absence of individualism). I think you run the risk of your thesis not actually saying anything worthwhile.


Or, as I pointed out, clearly false.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 11:26 pm
@jwhy,
jwhy;157729 wrote:
I am needing some quick help with a term paper due in several days. I have a limited understanding of philosophical concepts as this is the first semester I have ever studied the discipline. I need to narrow the focus of my thesis, tie it to a specific philosopher (a liberal philosopher) and would like to use the notion of "justice" as a central theme. The thesis I am using is:Every intelligible individual subscribes to a sense of liberalism and individualism as evidenced by their daily behavior. Any and all suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. Thank you in advance.

jwhy


Do you mean:

Every intelligent individual in his/her daily behavior acts as if s/he subscribes to a sense of liberalism and individualism regardless of the philosophy that s/he says (and perhaps believes) s/he subscribes to?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 05:26 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;157817 wrote:
Do you mean:

Every intelligent individual in his/her daily behavior acts as if s/he subscribes to a sense of liberalism and individualism regardless of the philosophy that s/he says (and perhaps believes) s/he subscribes to?


If it is, it is obviously false. So why would he say it?
 
fast
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 07:24 am
@kennethamy,
[QUOTE=kennethamy;157880]If it is, it is obviously false. So why would he say it?[/QUOTE]I think the author of this thesis may hold the view that liberalism and individualism can be depicted as being at opposite ends of a continuum (as opposed to an either/or grouping). If that is so, then maybe he also thinks that everyone has a spot on it.

In analogy, it may be thought that even die-hard liberals have some trace of conservatism on at least one issue. Is there no self-proclaimed conservative alive that has not at least some viewpoint that could at least be construed as not being pure conservative in nature?

I'm not arguing--just talkin' aloud.
 
jwhy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 10:16 am
@kennethamy,
I suppose by intelligible I mean "one who is capable of their full faculties or capable of free will, reasonable thought or decision making." With that in mind, I am attempting to allege that even those who i.d. themselves as communitarian, conservative or even libertarian, support and practice individualistic behavior. Ultimately, I suppose I am trying to assert that individualism is a precursor or includes such political philosophies as communitarian, conservative, or any other stance. Am I all wet here? I really appreciate the help.

---------- Post added 04-29-2010 at 11:21 AM ----------

Are there not those who align themselves within the communitarian framework that believe "the sense of the community" drives our actions and our identities? I am trying to develop a position in defense of liberal political philosophy. Please do not think that I am actually in possession of my actual political beliefs, yet. I took this class to help me develop that understanding...I may be more confused now. Thanx so much for your feedback.

---------- Post added 04-29-2010 at 11:26 AM ----------

Deckard;157817 wrote:
Do you mean:

Every intelligent individual in his/her daily behavior acts as if s/he subscribes to a sense of liberalism and individualism regardless of the philosophy that s/he says (and perhaps believes) s/he subscribes to?

I think that is very close to what I am trying to say. I am trying to further narrow my thesis and somehow incorporate how people arrive at their definitions of justice. Every political philosophy seems to have some conflicting notion as to how people formulate their definitions of justice. I am trying to say that people develop their understanding of justice with a sense of individualism or sense of themselves first. Any thoughts? Not sure I am relaying my thoughts clearly... Again, any help is greatly appreciated. Even possible parallel thesis suggestions are welcomed.

---------- Post added 04-29-2010 at 11:36 AM ----------

fast;157924 wrote:
I think the author of this thesis may hold the view that liberalism and individualism can be depicted as being at opposite ends of a continuum (as opposed to an either/or grouping). If that is so, then maybe he also thinks that everyone has a spot on it.

In analogy, it may be thought that even die-hard liberals have some trace of conservatism on at least one issue. Is there no self-proclaimed conservative alive that has not at least some viewpoint that could at least be construed as not being pure conservative in nature?

I'm not arguing--just talkin' aloud.

It has been my understanding (possibly misunderstanding) that the notion of "individualism" is most closely affiliated with a liberal or leftist position on the political scale. I am trying to assert that anyone who truly considers their political philosophy identity must begin with a notion of individualism or liberalism. This is basically a position paper of "liberalism v. communitarianism." Can I make this stand? Thanx so much for your feedback.
 
fast
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 02:12 pm
@jwhy,
edited out

...........
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 02:43 pm
@jwhy,
jhwy wrote:
It has been my understanding (possibly misunderstanding) that the notion of "individualism" is most closely affiliated with a liberal or leftist position on the political scale.


I don't think it is really. Socialism and communism, welfare and universal health care, these are all leftist positions and are collectivist.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 02:56 pm
@jwhy,
jwhy;157729 wrote:
I am needing some quick help with a term paper due in several days. I have a limited understanding of philosophical concepts as this is the first semester I have ever studied the discipline. I need to narrow the focus of my thesis, tie it to a specific philosopher (a liberal philosopher) and would like to use the notion of "justice" as a central theme. The thesis I am using is:Every intelligible individual subscribes to a sense of liberalism and individualism as evidenced by their daily behavior. Any and all suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. Thank you in advance.

jwhy


Hi jwhy, welcome to the forum. I got your PM's and considering the additional information you gave, it may be a little easier to construct a more narrowed thesis. You are probably already aware of a lot of the principles I am going to summarize, but this is just to make sure that we are on the same page and that the premises have some substantiation in the greater thesis framework.

You had mentioned that given your thesis, you would like to have an emphasis on justice, but also gear it towards a politically derived position between liberalism and communitarianism. You had also mentioned that you would like to defend liberalism and (if possible) assert that communitarianism is a component of liberalism. This can definitely be done.

First the relative content. Communitarianism within the context of this paper is essentially the emphasis of the community, rather than the individual (or state, nation, etc) should take ultimate priority in our own particular value system. Conversely, libertarianism essentially emphasizes an inexorable affinity for civil and political rights of the individual. Liberalism demands personal liberty, freedom of such diverse elements as speech, association, etc. Communitarianism demands on the other hand that while focusing on the individual per se, it is more concerned with the community at large. Simply, it is the status of the person within the community rather than the individual in general as far as communitarianism is concered.

Now I'm going out of my way to say that because I want to accommodate your goals for your thesis. The previous points are subtly derived, so this is by no means self explanatory. But this is intended to develop a certain direction for you. You had also mentioned that you wanted to assert that communitarianism is a component of liberalism. I think this is a good way to possibly go because at its core (in my opinion), you have these omnipresent conceptions of social contractual theory and prominent issues with distributive justice. Honestly, I don't know if you would like to go this route that I am proposing, so this is just a suggestion in an attempt to wrap up your thesis in the concepts you want as well give you some good philosophers to reference.

Suppose that, in the interest of your thesis, you were to emphasize the notion of justice as it pertains to the individual and their social habits evidenced by their behavior. As I have come to understand the fundamental notion of justice, the issue resides in the principle of benefit and burden. Taking this as an underlying theme, you can then examine notions of justice and how it pertains to social configuration. For example, you could examine retributivism, correctivism, or distributivism. Now if you look at distributivism in particular, you reach two very interesting implications; an extension of benefit and burden to intangible rights and liberties as well as the underlying implication that in order to qualify, one must above all be a rational being. Now benefit and burden relates to a few concepts. First is utilitarianism, which as Bentham and Mills purport apply benefit and burden to overall distribution in the interest of maximum utility. In contrast to this, you have John Rawls who suggests allocation based on principles of fairness (liberalism). Now principles of fairness extends to prerequisites of such things as recognition of those in your community as free and equal. This is implicative of social contract theory. This derivation is important for a few reasons. First it ties into your thesis, since it is the individual of whom we discuss and their habits. Second, by amending benefit and burden to fit with rights and freedoms, you get the direction you need to assert the communitarian/liberalism parallel (or even juxtaposition since you really could argue either or).

Now I don't know whether or not you would want to go with this idea, so let me know if you would like to go further with this or go in another direction. I suppose this is just a troubleshooting post for you to see if anything catches your eye. If you would like to go forward with this idea, you have quite a few philosophers and points of view to select from for you paper. Of course, you have utilitarianism in its base sense with Bentham and Mills as well as John Rawls in the case of superficial liberalism. If anything, use John Rawls and John Stuart Mills as your central figures for discussion in comparing communitarianism and individualism.

You also have a few primary sources that you can use which emphasize this general direction. One book that I think would be very helpful to you is Individualism and Communitarianism by Schlomo Avineri ad Avner de-Shalit. You would find this particularly interesting in so far as bonding communitarianism and liberalism together under a common theme, like social contract theory (which I think is a very good direction to take) and essential notions of individual commitment. Another equally excellent book much in sync with the Avineri book is Cross Purposes: The Liberal Communitarian Debate by Charles Taylor. You may find this very helpful as far as combining the two together under a common theme.

To be honest, it is very difficult to construct the paper from the thesis out, especially in regards to liberalism and communitarianism. I just gave a little bit of fill in for consideration as well as some references in case you like where those ideas are leading you.
 
jwhy
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 03:27 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
You have really given me some inspiration here. I cannot thank you enough. Your efforts deserve more compensation than I am extending here. I am off to put some thoughts on paper. Thank you again.

jwhy
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 07:56 pm
@jwhy,
jwhy;157729 wrote:
and would like to use the notion of "justice" as a central theme.


I've been going back to Nichomean Ethics lately. Book 5 is all about justice.
The Internet Classics Archive | Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

Also Aristotle makes this comment about justice at the beginning of book 8.

Quote:
Friendship seems too to hold states together, and lawgivers to care more for it than for justice; for unanimity seems to be something like friendship, and this they aim at most of all, and expel faction as their worst enemy; and when men are friends they have no need of justice, while when they are just they need friendship as well, and the truest form of justice is thought to be a friendly quality.
 
prothero
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 09:59 pm
@jwhy,
jwhy;157979 wrote:
IIt has been my understanding (possibly misunderstanding) that the notion of "individualism" is most closely affiliated with a liberal or leftist position on the political scale. I am trying to assert that anyone who truly considers their political philosophy identity must begin with a notion of individualism or liberalism. This is basically a position paper of "liberalism v. communitarianism." Can I make this stand? Thanx so much for your feedback.

Liberalism as a philosophical term often is associated with liberty and libertarianism which is indiviudal almost by definition and defensive of the rights of indiviudals to liberty, freedom and self determination.

LIberalism as a political term is often collectivism, social security, medicare, goverment efforts to equalize opportunity and wealth. Using the government to enforce collective aims for the "common good". This is often the antithesis of "indiviudal self reliance and independence".

This is why referring to yourself as a liberal or being referred to as a liberal is not very informative.

I think those who favor smaller more efficient government with more local and indiviudal freedom and decision making are often considered conservatives. These same people sometimes favor laws intrusive into indiviudals private lives (drugs, sex, gambling, ). Somehow this always strikes me as inconsistent philosophically.

Of course on the other hand political liberals often favor laws legalizing (abortion, drugs, sex, pornography, same sex marriage) but at the same time favor government control and intrusion into almost all aspects of the economy and business sectors (taxes, rules, regulations).

So the relationship between "liberalism" and indiviudal rights is fairly complex.

So it is not really liberalism vs collectivism
it is
individualism vs. collectivism and then it depends on which aspect of government, the economy or personal behavior you are talking about.
 
jwhy
 
Reply Fri 30 Apr, 2010 10:32 am
@prothero,
Well said I think.
 
 

 
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