What is Politics?

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Lecture slides for an undergraduate class on Philippine Politics and Governance I taught between 2003 and 2005. This is from the introductory lecture.

These slides were prepared using Powerpoint XP.
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What is Politics?

  1. 1. What is Politics?
  2. 2. Overview Overview • Why should we study politics? – Defining Politics – Politics as but only one means to an end (but an important one) – Definition of a political predicament – An answer to the question: Is politics good or bad?
  3. 3. Definitions Definitions • Politics involves making common decisions for a group of people. • It is the activity by which differing interests within a given unit of rule are conciliated by giving them a share in power in proportion to their importance to the welfare and survival of the whole community.
  4. 4. What is Politics? What is Politics? Man is a political animal - Aristotle • If this is true, then politics is not only prevalent in our lives, but inevitable. • We must understand politics to meaningfully participate in it.
  5. 5. “Who gets what, when and how.” “Who gets what, when and how.” • Politics arises… …because of the need to make decisions… …in the face of diversity… …and in the context of complexity.
  6. 6. The Conciliation of Interests The Conciliation of Interests • Politics is a complex activity. • When interests are uniform, there are no politics. • “The unique character of political activity lies…in its publicity.” • People cannot opt out of politics. • Politics presupposes an established order.
  7. 7. Is politics the only way Is politics the only way to conciliate interests? to conciliate interests? • Certainly, there are many ways to reconcile differences. • Politics is a particular way of reconciling differences. – Tolerance, respect, support and compromise are the language of politics. – Politics itself admits differences.
  8. 8. When to resort to politics? When to resort to politics? A Political Predicament arises when: 1.) A given set of persons require a common policy. 2.) These people submit mutually exclusive alternatives.
  9. 9. Is politics good or bad? Is politics good or bad? • More often than not, politics is viewed with derision. • However, as politics entails the conciliation of diverse interests, its natural object is the common good. Aristotle: “Politics is the Master Science.”
  10. 10. Summary Summary • Politics is the conciliation of diverse interests in society • Politics is a particular way of reconciling differences: it is a civilizing activity. • Political predicaments arise when decisions have to be made and alternative solutions are mutually exclusive.
  11. 11. Summary • Politics is meant to achieve the common good. • Politics: Aristotle’s Master Science.
  12. 12. - end -

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