Essay on Intrinsic Human Dignity and Equality in Relation to Liberal Democracy

Essay on Intrinsic Human Dignity and Equality in Relation to Liberal Democracy

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Liberal democracy is prevalent in the West. This political arrangement guarantees the rights of a people in relation to their government. Many Westerners, unfortunately, cannot give a philosophical explanation and/or justification for it. Ultimately, an examination of liberal democracy will demonstrate that it rests on notions of human dignity, equality and happiness, which are not recent developments in philosophy, but have their origins in classical and scholastic thought. It is in said examination that one can reasonably conclude that liberal democracy while not the best system of government is certainly better than the alternatives.
Democracy is not a contemporary phenomenon. It did not originate here in North America. Rather, its practice began---more than 2,000 years ago---in Athens, a city-state, in the Greek Mediterranean. The philosophers Aristotle and Plato attested to that fact in their writings. It is in Plato’s Republic that one finds the earliest definition of democracy, which is briefly, “the rule of the governed.” Plato compares democracy to monarchy, or rule of the one, oligarchy, or rule of the elite, and lastly, timocracy, or rule by property owners. Interestingly enough, the Republic’s author believed the rule of a philosopher-king was preferable to that of the masses. The Politics, written by Aristotle, provided a very robust explanation and justification of democracy, which will be detailed later in this paper. Nevertheless, democracy is synonymous with popular sovereignty or the notion that all within a human community have a say in the matters that affect them all.
If one accepts democracy as a practice, the question is then begged what kind of an institution sustains it? This discussion---though ...


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...onal being. He possesses a faculty which allows him to create, imagine, strategize and the like. Such qualities are not found in other creatures. In addition, man is a social being. He does not live alone, but lives in relation or community with others, beginning his family and extending outward to the larger society. Man, some philosophers have argued, acts towards a certain teolos, ends, or purpose. Aristotle believed that man sought happiness and achieved it through virtuous living. “For if what was said in the Ethics is true,” Aristotle wrote in his Politics, “that the happy life is the life according to virtue lived without impediment, and that virtue is a mean, then the life which is in a mean, and in a mean attainable by every one must be the best.” This happiness is not found on one’s own, but rather in the life of the community, in relation with others.

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