UPSC Mains 2015 Solved Optional Paper: Political Science and IR – Paper 1 and 2

(a) Idea of Natural Rights

Ans. Natural rights mean Rights that people supposedly have under natural law. Natural law mean an ethical belief or system of beliefs supposed to be inherent in human nature and Discoverable by reason rather than revelation. The Declaration of Independence of the United States lists life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as natural rights. Theory of Might is right is very popular in natural rights which mean “those who are powerful can do what they wish unchallenged, even if their action is in fact unjustified”.

In classical political philosophy “natural right” refers to the objective rightness of the right things, whether the virtue of a soul, the correctness of an action, or the excellence of a regime.

Thus Aristotle says in Politics that no one would call a man happy who was completely lacking in courage, temperance, justice, or wisdom. A man who was easily frightened, unable to restrain any impulse toward food or drink, willing to ruin his friends for a trifle, and generally senseless could not possibly lead a good life.The virtues and actions that contribute to the good life, and the activities intrinsic to the good life, are naturally right.

Natural rights on the other hand, are the rights that all men possess, because of which they may be obligated to act, or to refrain from acting, in certain ways. According to the teaching developed primarily by Hobbes and Locke, there are many natural rights, but all of them are inferences from one original right, the right that each man has to preserve his life. All other natural rights, like the right to liberty and the right to property, are necessary inferences from the right of self-preservation, or are conceived as implicit in the exercise of that primary right. Similarly, the natural law founded upon natural rights consists of deductions made from the primary right and its implications.

Locke assumed that humans were by nature rational and good, and that they carried into political society the same rights they had enjoyed in earlier stages of society, foremost among them being freedom of worship, the right to a voice in their own government, and the right of property. Jean Jacques Rousseau attempted to reconcile the natural rights of the individual with the need for social unity and cooperation through the idea of the social contract. The most important elaboration of the idea of natural rights came in the North American colonies, however, where the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and Thomas Paine made of the natural rights theory a powerful justification for revolution.

(b) Aristotle’s Conception of Equality

Ans. Aristotle rarely addresses the concept of equality explicitly or independently of a larger point. He does, however, make statements that one could manipulate in order to hypothesize what his view on equality might consist of, if enunciated, and these statements are with regard to economic and not just civil and political equality. According to Aristotle The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. Aristotle describes three regime forms in Book Three: rule by one, rule by few, and rule by many.

Economic Equality within the Aristocracy :-This arrangement seems to describe not one city, but two, or a city within a city. In thepostlude, I discuss the consequences of such an arrangement. Our central concern in this essay isequality, and whether we can discover if Aristotle finds either political or economic equality (orboth) beneficial, and under what circumstances. Clearly, under his best regime, the aristocracy,equality is not only unimportant, it is to be avoided. In order to create a virtuous few, some of the city’s residents must be slaves and subjects with no political rights.

Various Principles:-

Formal Equality:- When two persons have equal status in at least one normatively relevant respect, they must be treated equally with regard to this respect.This is the generally accepted formal equality principle that Aristotle formulated in reference to Plato: “treat like cases as like”. 

Proportional Equality:- According to Aristotle, there are two kinds of equality, numerical and proportional (Aristotle,Nicomachean Ethics, 1130b-1132b; cf. Plato, Laws, VI.757b-c). A form of treatment of others or as a result of it a distribution is equal numerically when it treats all persons as indistinguishable, thus treating them identically or granting them the same quantity of a good per capita. That is not always just. In contrast, a form of treatment of others or distribution is proportional or relatively equal when it treats all relevant persons in relation to their due. Just numerical equality is a special case of proportional equality.

Moral Equality:- Until the eighteenth century, it was assumed that human beings are unequal by nature, that there was a natural human hierarchy. This postulate collapsed with the advent of the idea of natural right and its assumption of an equality of natural order among all human beings. Against Plato and Aristotle, the classical formula for justice according to which an action is just when it offers each individual his or her due took on a substantively egalitarian meaning in the course of time, viz. everyone deserved the same dignity and the same respect. This is now the widely held conception of substantive, universal, moral equality.etc.

(c) ‘Difference Principle’ in Rawls’ Theory of Justice

In A Theory of Justice, Rawls argues for a principled reconciliation of liberty and equality, it is meant to apply to the basic structure of a well-ordered society. Rawls belongs to the social contract tradition. However, Rawls’ social contract takes a different view from that of previous thinkers. Specifically, Rawls develops what he claims are principles of justice through the use of an artificial device he calls the Original position in which everyone decides principles of justice from behind a veil of ignorance.

The Two Principles of Justice

The First Principle of Justice “First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.”The basic liberties of citizens are the political liberty to vote and run for office, freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience, freedom of personal property and freedom from arbitrary arrest.

The Second Principle of Justice

Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that (a) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society, consistent with the just savings principle (the difference principle). (b) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity

Rawls argues that self-interested rational persons behind the veil of ignorance would choose two general principles of justice to structure society in the real world:

Principle of equal liberty:-Each person has an equal right to the most extensive liberties compatible with similar liberties for all. (Egalitarian.)

Difference principle:- Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of equality of opportunity.

Distributive Justice

Distributive principles vary in numerous dimensions. They vary in what is considered relevant to distributive justice (income, wealth, opportunities, jobs, welfare, utility, etc.); in the nature of the recipients of the distribution (individual persons, groups of persons, reference classes, etc.); and on what basis the distribution should be made (equality, maximization, according to individual characteristics, according to free transactions, etc.).

In 1974, Rawls’ colleague at Harvard, Robert Nozick, published a defense of libertarian justice, Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Another Harvard colleague, Michael Walzer, wrote a defense of communitarian political philosophy, Spheres of Justice, as a result of a seminar he co-taught with Nozick. In a related line of criticism, Michael Sandel, also a Harvard colleague, wrote Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, in which he criticized Rawls for asking us to think about justice while divorced from the values and aspirations that define who we are as persons and that allow us to determine what justice is.

(d) Difference between Participatory and Deliberative Democracy

Participatory democracy is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems. Etymological roots of democracyimply that the people are in power and thus that all democracies are participatory. Participatory democracy is comprised of forms of democracy whereby citizens invest their time and knowledge to participate in informed decision-making on laws and policy.

Deliberative democracy is a variant of participatory democracy. In a deliberative democracy, citizens invest time to deliberate or authentically weigh all arguments before voting or deciding by consensus on the laws which will govern them. If citizens cannot come to a consensus after deliberation, then laws are enacted by majority vote. This deliberative process is what gives laws their legitimacy.

(e) Gandhi’s Views on State

In Gandhi’s assessment, the state (Western type) was the symbol of violence in concentrated form. In order to ensure allegiance from the citizens the state (which means its authority) applies coercion or violent measures mercilessly.

State and Ram RajProf. Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyay has defined Ram Raj (literally Divine Rule) in the following words: “It is possible to distinguish between two levels of the social and political thought of Gandhi-the ideal and the practical.Rama or Rahim were of equal importance to him. By Ram Raj is meant sovereignty of people on pure moral authority.

Sovereignty of State: Gandhi was not interested at all in building up a comprehensive and well-argued political theory. He was a mass leader, philosopher and freedom fighter. On various issues and situations he expressed opinions which constitute certain aspects of political theory and state sovereignty is such a theory. In Western political thought, state sovereignty is a much talked theory and large number of scholars and philosophers has dealt with this concept. Bodin and Hobbes are chief among them.

Popular Sovereignty: “Gandhi was an ardent advocate not of traditional state sovereignty but of popular sovereignty strongly advocated by one of the social contract theoreticians.” J. J. Rousseau (1712-1778). Rousseau wanted to introduce popular sovereignty of the Greek city-state in his home state. In the scheme of Rousseau’s popular sovereignty the citizens had the opportunity to assemble in open places periodically and to participate in the variety of functions of state. Gandhi contemplated the same type of popular sovereignty for India.

State and Society: Though Gandhi does not deal with society and its relationship with state it is not difficult to frame certain conclusions about his attitude to society keeping his general outlook and philosophy in mind. His inordinate love for liberty rights of the individual and democracy and strong opposition to violence and coercion make it abundantly clear that he stressed more importance on society and less importance to state.

In his judgment society is the best place for the free play of individual’s opinion, in society people enjoy freedom of speech and expression and mainly in society individuals get ample opportunities to mould and remould their views This is due to the fact that the area of state is vast and always it is not suitable for individual’s tree and spontaneous activities.

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