Do we have a moral duty to accept the role of the state? I was first faced with this question when reading ‘An Introduction to Political Philosophy by Jonathan Wolff. This fundamentally changed my outlook on political philosophy as a subject because it presented a more abstract view, not only of the contemporary political climate but of the concept of political power. This question inspired my passion for political philosophy due to the rising levels of political discourse in post-modern western society; many feel that their political leaders do not represent their views on how society should be managed, there is a controversial view that these people are still tacitly approving of the state by continuing to enjoy its benefits regardless, I partially disagree with this claim and prefer the approach of indirect utilitarian as it recognises that people do not make decisions based on consequences but rather by developing the right principles and acting upon them.
Plato’s famous argument against democracy says that democracy is not instrumentally justifiable: ‘Some people are simply better rulers than others and so ruling must be learned and should only be taught to those who have a talent for it’. Whilst I appreciate the initial clarity of this argument I struggle to come to terms with its flippancy towards the level of classism that this view may create in practice in more modern societies. I had the opportunity to investigate this further in my History coursework when answering the question ‘Did the Monarchy discredit itself in the years 1785-1885?’. Although I may not fully agree with Plato’s conclusion in the context of modern democracy, the strong belief in divine right held by the more absolutist French monarchs could be seen to provide supporting evidence for Plato’s view due to the turmoil caused from their lack of pragmatism. I am excited to explore this argument further.
A level History has changed my outlook and led me to realise that alternative interpretations, particularly from people with different socio-political backgrounds, are the only way to think critically about the impacts of different regimes on various groups of people. The execution of Charles I following the civil war in 1642 can be interpreted by Marxist historians as inevitable for the working class to rise up against the classist monarchy. Logically, people within society look for power figures that represent them, consequently if they don’t feel represented they feel less of moral responsibility to accept the state. History has therefore given me the skills to analyse contemporary sources which I can apply to contemporary philosophy. My chemistry and maths A-levels showed me the importance of a scientific perspective when studying philosophy. This interested me as it suggested that philosophy was not just a subject of theoretical study but something that could be changed over time by human activity, Francis Bacon introduced this by stating that; ‘The truly practical sciences were now understood to be the natural sciences which would act upon nature, altering its original form to exist in conformity with human comfort.’ I am drawn to the logic of mathematics and enjoy this element of analytical philosophy. Philosophy investigates the foundation of every system and maths is a system. I am impressed not only by the epistemic legitimacy of Maths but the innovation behind challenging the perceived classic mathematical truths.
I believe that the stimulation of the body and mind are of parallel importance and this is what encouraged me to achieve my bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s award. As a result of this I have been employed with invaluable communicative skills which help further by ability to interpret the world from the perspective of others. Within this award I had the opportunity to volunteer at my local ‘Counting House’ Dickensian museum, providing me with organisational skills that have benefitted my logic and reasoning as I had to explore problems with my own initiative. I avidly participated in singing lessons for over four years, the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy describes music as “perhaps the art that presents the most philosophical puzzles”. I am intrigued by this as music can often be seen to lack semantic content despite its abundance of implicit emotion. However, it has shaped my confidence in my argumentative ability especially when deliberating and reaching conclusions to convince others.