Rights and Justice versus Public Opinion

Sim

Registered Member
#11
Assuming that the majority who wants to stomp on some odd minority has more love for the law than their fellow man? Otherwise, what is keeping them from doing as they please? Also, "republic" is a vague term, and I have no idea why so many folks have started using it to refer to constitutional democracies, except maybe to advocate that the democracy be taken out of constitutional democracies, and tradition made king.
These "folks" you are referring to are the philosophers who laid the foundations for our modern constitutional democracies, like Locke, Montesquieu, Kant and so on.

This goes back to Aristotle, who made a difference between the three possible forms of government: 1. One governs (monarchy), 2. few govern (oligarchy) or 3. all govern (democracy). According to him, a democracy inevitably becomes a tyranny.

And that is what all enlightened philosophers based their thoughts on. They all agreed a republic is the best form of government, where all three archetypes of governemnt are mixed: One governs (President or Prime Minister), few govern (members of parliament) and all govern (representatives are elected by the people). Throw in Locke's and Montesquieu's idea of separation of the branches, Rousseau's sovereignty of the people, and you got a modern republic.

"Republic" is the original term for modern "constitutional democracies". Those who keep calling it "democracy" are those who use the wrong term, since they don't know the basics of state philosophy.
 
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Wade8813

Registered Member
#12
To prevent excessive instability in a state, you really do need certain foundational laws that cannot be changed by a simple majority vote. Instability gets in the way of progress, just as having all laws be exceedingly difficult to change gets in the way of progress (and, I suppose, stability as well). For example, if a legislature could--by a simple majority vote--and did change the nature of the legislature so that a popular opposing party could no longer serve in it, then you end up on a road to instability. You would have suddenly replaced the democracy with something else, and when the tide of public opinion inevitably turns against the offending legislature in a big way... I doubt things would be pretty.
So, your "natural laws" are that stability and "progress" are good things...?
 

Kazmarov

For a Free Scotland
#13
Should the few law abiding gun owners in DC, Chicago or San Fransisco not be allowed to defend themselves just because the majority of people don't want them there?
Actually, if "90%" of the people wanted to, they could pass the 28th amendment and abolish the 2nd.

Though Freedonia's constitution is vague on the matter (snicker).
 
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Sim

Registered Member
#14
Actually, if "90%" of the people wanted to, they could pass the 28th amendment and abolish the 2nd.

Though Freedonia's constitution is vague on the matter (snicker).
In the highly hypothetical case 100% of Freedonia's citizens agreed freedom of speech is bad (there will never be 100% agreement in this question in any country), it would sure been abandoned. There is not much we could do about it. If it was good or desirable, that's another question.

But that's what happens when you have a democratic republic, but no democratic people. When the majority simply doesn't have the right mindset to make a free system work, it will fail. See Palestine, where the islamofascist Hamas has been democratically elected.

That's why bringing democratic systems to foreign countries with the sword (see: Iraq) is most problematical. You need a people with a mindset of freedom first, then there can be a free political system. It doesn't work vice versa.
 

ExpectantlyIronic

e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑
#15
Sim said:
These "folks" you are referring to are the philosophers who laid the foundations for our modern constitutional democracies, like Locke, Montesquieu, Kant and so on.
I believe Kant qualified his use of the term "republic" with "constitutional republic" on occasion, suggesting that he did not see republics as necessarily having a constitution. Kant seemed to use the term "republic' to refer to a state with a separation of powers. Incidentally, it is very important to note that when philosophers from back in the day criticized democracies, they were criticizing direct democracies, which were the only democracies they knew.

So when I talk about folks who use "republic" to refer to a state with a constitution, I am not referring to Kant. As for Locke and Montesquieu, I know nothing of Montesquieu, and am not sure how or if Locke used the term "republic". I will say that I disagree with a whole lot of Locke's political views, though, and think the pedestal folks place him on for them is undeserved. Incidentally, there is something to be said for his epistemological views.

From what I can tell, most modern philosophers used the term "republic" simply to refer to whatever states do not have an absolute sovereign. Machiavelli distinguished between republics and principalities, and Kant distinguished between republicanism and despotism, for example.

Sim said:
And that is what all enlightened philosophers based their thoughts on.
You mean "enlightenment philosophers"? The idea of them being enlightened leaves a bad taste in my mouth, since they were so often full of shit.

Sim said:
They all agreed a republic is the best form of government,
If you did mean enlightenment philosophers, I should point out that Hobbes did not agree, and thought a state ruled by an absolute sovereign was best.

Sim said:
"Republic" is the original term for modern "constitutional democracies". Those who keep calling it "democracy" are those who use the wrong term, since they don't know the basics of state philosophy.
The term "democracy" has come to refer to both representative and direct democracies, whereas the old moderns and ancients used it to refer only to direct democracies. If the modern use of the term is wrong, political scientists use the wrong term a whole lot.

Wade8813 said:
So, your "natural laws" are that stability and "progress" are good things...?
No. I just prefer stability and progress to instability and stagnation.
 
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Wade8813

Registered Member
#16
No. I just prefer stability and progress to instability and stagnation.
Okay, so laws should be harder to overturn because of your preferences?
 

ExpectantlyIronic

e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑
#17
Wade8813 said:
Okay, so laws should be harder to overturn because of your preferences?
I was saying that a certain minority of foundational laws should be harder to overturn, just to be clear. As for why they should: I can't give a compelling reason for that to anyone who doesn't share some of my values, I admit. I'm not going to say that it is the law of nature or God that things work according to my preferences, as that would be intellectually dishonest, for whatever seeming authority my lies might lend my opinions.

Also, yes, I would prefer that things work as I prefer them to.
 
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Wade8813

Registered Member
#18
I was saying that a certain minority of foundational laws should be harder to overturn, just to be clear. As for why they should: I can't give a compelling reason for that to anyone who doesn't share some of my values, I admit. I'm not going to say that it is the law of nature or God that things work according to my preferences, as that would be intellectually dishonest, for whatever seeming authority my lies might lend my opinions.

Also, yes, I would prefer that things work as I prefer them to.
Obviously, you'd prefer that. My point is that your critiques of other's posts on laws (regarding when life starts, I believe) applies here as well.
 

Sim

Registered Member
#19
I believe Kant qualified his use of the term "republic" with "constitutional republic" on occasion, suggesting that he did not see republics as necessarily having a constitution. Kant seemed to use the term "republic' to refer to a state with a separation of powers.
Agreed. And that was my point. I wanted to explain that "democracy" in the modern sense is much more than "rule by the majority", but other concepts are vital, like separation of power and constitutional protection of minority rights. Just because the majority decides something, that doesn't mean it's just.

Incidentally, it is very important to note that when philosophers from back in the day criticized democracies, they were criticizing direct democracies, which were the only democracies they knew.
Yes, it was not before the mid to late 19th century when the concepts were conflated and representative, constitutional democracies referred to simply as "democracies". But my point was, as I said above, that a modern democracy is not a direct democracy, when I answered to Kaz's question.

Kant also said in a republic, the people choses its representants. So I think when he said "republic", he meant basically the same thing we know as "modern constitutional representative democracy" today.

So when I talk about folks who use "republic" to refer to a state with a constitution, I am not referring to Kant. As for Locke and Montesquieu, I know nothing of Montesquieu, and am not sure how or if Locke used the term "republic". I will say that I disagree with a whole lot of Locke's political views, though, and think the pedestal folks place him on for them is undeserved. Incidentally, there is something to be said for his epistemological views.
Montesquieu took some of Locke's ideas and further developed then, I was taught, so he is considered the father of the concept of separation of powers.

From what I can tell, most modern philosophers used the term "republic" simply to refer to whatever states do not have an absolute sovereign. Machiavelli distinguished between republics and principalities, and Kant distinguished between republicanism and despotism, for example.
They all base their distinctions on Aristotle, who, as I explained above, distinguishes between the three archetypes of government (one rules, few rule or all rule). Even he, later followed by Cicero, already claimed the best possible constitution is a mix of all three types of government, a "republic", where the different principles keep each other in check. It was not yet a theory of modern separation of powers, but later philosophers would base their work on these ideas.

For example, Kant follows Locke and Montesquieu, the latter following Aristotle, when he says a "republic" is such a mixed type of government, where one rules (head of the executive), few rule (elected members of parliament as legislative) and all rule (the entire people elects representants), while a separation of powers keeps the branches in check.

You mean "enlightenment philosophers"? The idea of them being enlightened leaves a bad taste in my mouth, since they were so often full of shit.
I'm sorry, I hit the language barrier here, English is not my first language.

I prefer the German term for "enlightenment", at any rate: "Aufklärung", which bears much less pathos and can also be translated as "education" or "elucidation". It's the perfect term for helping people to use their reason, and I don't see "light" has anything to do with that.

If you did mean enlightenment philosophers, I should point out that Hobbes did not agree, and thought a state ruled by an absolute sovereign was best.
Yes, and Rousseau basically was a proto-collectivist or proto-fascist, with his idea of total submission of the individual under the collective will.

My point was that the type of government we often call "democracy" was initially called "republic" by those who laid the foundations of modern constitutional democracies, to introduce into the debate that "rule of the majority" = "democracy" = "good" is cutting short the problem.

The term "democracy" has come to refer to both representative and direct democracies, whereas the old moderns and ancients used it to refer only to direct democracies. If the modern use of the term is wrong, political scientists use the wrong term a whole lot.
You know, it was my goal to point people in this thread to the fact that a modern "democracy" is more than just rule of the majority (regardless if direct or representative), which many people often like to believe. But a modern constitutional democracy also requires separation of powers and constitutional protection of civil rights, serving as check against majority rule.

It's problematical that there is no differentiation between such constitutional states and direct democracy when people use the term "democracy". Many then believe the element of elections is the most important for a free state. But it isn't. A direct democracy can very well be a tyranny, while even a republic with few democratic elements can still warrant a good amount of negative individual freedom.

It was my point to sharpen the view that "freedom" =/ "majority rule".
 
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