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Q: Develop a philosophical framework for politics ( No Answer,   15 Comments )
Subject: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
Category: Relationships and Society > Politics
Asked by: politicojojo-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 26 Oct 2006 01:17 PDT
Expires: 25 Nov 2006 00:17 PST
Question ID: 777033
My objective is to develop a philosophical framework which helps me
determine a position on any political issue.
My starting point is I want to know all about the history of ideas and
philosophy in particular.
I could do this myself, but I have two contstraints: 
1. I want a "knowledge download" without all the pre-amble and waffle.
2. I'm interested only in political philosophy - I want to develop a
new approach to politics based on reason. So I'm not interested in
religious philosophy that is solely concerned with proving the
existence of god, but I am interested in good vs. bad, right vs. wrong
[ethics], and better ways to live life and treat others.

So what I'm looking for is a beautifully written summary that's clear
and easy to understand, or private interactive tuition over a weekend
at my home (I'm based in bournemouth in the UK if anyone is interested
in the latter, and it's a beautiful place, so it will be a pleasant

Below are some resources you get when you type "philosophy" into
Google, together with my comments, to help you understand what I'm
looking for. is OK, but it's only listed alphabetically, so
no good for someone like me who wants an overview. is great, accessible by timeline and
history, but links through to texts on which
are the full thing, including all the chat and pre-amble of socratic
dialogues, and also seems light on eastern philosophy. looks good, but
there are way too many links to wade through. looks like the sort of
summary I would like, but is based in london. is one of many
"philosophy gateways" that take loads of time to navigate, and are
full of broken links. and are quite good, but
it's all too much info and waffle - I want just the "meat". looks great
- but again I don't have time to wade through it all.
is brilliant, but I want a summary.

I hope someone can help. 

P.S: I don't like the time limit of 1 month, I was hoping for more like one week.

P.P.S: I'm not paying for a load of links to web resources, I'm paying
for a nicely collated, well-written summary.

Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 26 Oct 2006 02:00 PDT
Just so we're clear, I'm looking for:
1. Key points / ideas of each philosopher.
2. Key ways in which philosopher A differs from philosopher B, and
what the key learn / advancement is.
3. What is the result / what are the most widely accepted ideas today.
I know this is a lot of work (more than 4-8 hours), so I'm expecting
some highly educated person in a poor country to answer it.  Cutting &
pasting is fine, if it results in readable text. Buying a book on
Amazon and posting it to me is fine, if you know exactly the right

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 27 Oct 2006 10:09 PDT


Buying a book on Amazon and posting it 

Google Answers does not allow contact between customers and researchers outside
this site (read the rules) but we can suggest consulting sites which do that.
       'highly educated person in a poor country to answer it ..'
I believe that price here depends on quality only, not on the cost of living
in researcher's country .(same as in IKEA stores :-) 

4) What if some educated person will but his/her energy into this and you do
 not like the answer?  Will you still pay? 

 Philosophy, even rational philosophy, is more subjective then math or natural

Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 12:47 PDT
1st point - to those of you whose tone suggests you are offended by my
wanting a lot for my money - why should I be denied knowledge because
I can't afford $1,000?  If there's a [relatively] poor person out
there prepared to do more for $200 than some rich person in America -
what's wrong with that?  If both the answerer and myself gain to our
mutual satisfaction, who are others to disapprove?  Suggesting that I
shouldn't seek best value for my [hard-earned] money is protectionism.
And if you are a stupid person in a rich country - consider yourself
very lucky.  And yes, if the answer is great, I would give a tip.

Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 12:49 PDT
2nd point - I meant buy a book and have it sent to me - I am paying
$200 after all - if there was a perfect book, it would be easy money
for someone.  If that's not allowed - so be it.

Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 13:02 PDT
3rd point - will I pay? Yes.  I think it is easy to objectively
determine whether I've got what I want.  I'm not asking for opinion
about what is the right philosophy, and I'm not asking for judgements
on what's right or wrong - I'll make those judgements myself.

What I'm after is a straight facts-based "history of philosophy" along
the lines of:
It all started with Socrates, he said[...], then along came Aristotle,
he said[...]. Aristotle differed from Socrates in that [...], and
Plato differed from Aristotle in that [...]. etc, to the modern day. 
You can skip purely religious philosophers, by which I mean those
whose ideas about theology and how it should be applied, if say,
Augustine or Aquinas added something to the secular body of
philosophy, then I'm interested (I think maybe Spinoza fits this?),
otherwise not.

What I hope to be left with at the end of my read is:
1. An understanding of the main arguments (the one page from each tome
suggested by frde-ga) of the main philosophers, and
2. An understanding on what are the main disagreements, so I can pick
which arguments I prefer.

I want to arrive at a balanced and well thought-through opinion on why
a political view might be valid, but I don't expect this work to give
me a political opinion, I just expect it to give me a framework that I
can refer to.

Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 13:08 PDT
Last point: in response to twirly5181-ga, yes I am hoping to shortcut
my learning curve.  I think this is a reasonable wish, because there's
someone out there who already knows all this stuff, and so for them it
would be much quicker to dive into web sites, and lift out the
relevant bits without having to wade through the whole lot.

If I'm asking too much, then I guess no-one will answer my question,
and I'll have to learn it the hard way, but I don't think the value of
the knowledge will be less because I got it quickly.  It seems to me
it's like all those business books out there - there's 400 pages that
can be summarised in 4 pages.  I would not be surprised if it were the
same with philosophy.

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 28 Oct 2006 23:41 PDT
Dear  politico joj0

There is nothing wrong with   
 '.. wanting a lot for [your] money ..'   and no offense was taken.

Purpose of pre-answer dialog (or RFCs as we call it) is first of all
clarification of the question. Secondly, a GAR tries to determine if
investing time into doing the research and writing a report is a good
investment of his/her time.
You can see more on jargon (GAR RFC..) and issues of our risks here:  

 You can see a function of the RFC dialog here on somewhat similar
(not well defined according to 'hard sciences' standards) question
 and process of setting some limits on what one can get for what:

".. I will certainly accept your "by the year 3000" parameter.  After all,
asking for an accurate prediction of the course of 5 billions years of
planetary history for $30 would be unreasonable...'    :-)

  As you can see, in some cases customer got more for his/her money when a GAR
finds the question interesting. That has more effect that GARs
residence. My comment 'price here depends on quality only' is not a
moral judgment, nor a protest. It is an info: GA is a global
marketplace of free agents: You are welcome to look for the best
bargain, and all GARs are free to accept the risk or to leave question
unanswered. While GA has GAR all over the world, the location has not
effect on quality of research (with exception of quality of English perhaps :-)
or cost ).
As an example: "I lived in both rich and in  poor countries,  and I
value my time equally in both, and my abilities (and handicaps) are
also same). Your
assumption 'that a person in a poor country may do more for a given amount is valid
in a local market (digging a ditch) but not in global market (on an
Internet). As I said, that's an info, not a complaint.

I do not believe  that it can be objectively determined if your spec were met. 
It would be better for you to look at past work og GARs who may
consider your question, and decide which of them you would likr to
pay, if any. It should be
'best effort' deal (in my opinion) (each GAR decides for herself)



Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 30 Oct 2006 12:47 PST
Thanks for your comments Hedgie, but I'm not 100% sure what
clarification you're looking for?

Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 01 Nov 2006 03:43 PST
Thanks to all for their input. 
I've bitten the bullet and taken on board some of your suggestions. 
To that end I've bought a load of books - for your interest you might
like to know which ones:

"Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking"	Jamie Whyte
"History of Western Philosophy (Routledge Classics)"	Bertrand Russell
"How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic"	Madsen Pirie
"Philosophy: The Basics"	Nigel Warburton
"Philosophy: The Classics"	Nigel Warburton
"The Oxford Companion to Philosophy"	Ted Honderich
"The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (Oxford Paperback Reference)" Simon Blackburn
"Thinking from A to Z"	Nigel Warburton
"Whats It All About? a Guide to Lifes Basic Questions and Answers"
Richard de la Chaumiere
"What's It All About?: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life" Julian Baggini

What with these books and the web, I've got all the background detail
I need for now. So: whoever's working on the answer - the good news is
you can make it pithy; what I need is the essence of the important

All you guys who helped me - look out for me - I'm gonna be
prime-minister one day, and I'm going to improve the nation because of
this stuff ;-)

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 07 Nov 2006 01:58 PST

.. but I'm not 100% sure what
clarification you're looking for?

  My answer would certainly be quite different from what you would get if you would
  ' do this yourdself' 

Particularly now, when I see that it is 'real life aplication' rather
then a school project, I would emphasize current and modern sources,
relative to ancient philosophers.

So I was looking for assurance that you will accept the answer even if it would
differ from what you probably expected originaly. 

Do you agree that the validity od an answer cannot be determined objectively
and are you ready to be flexible and broadminded?

Request for Question Clarification by guillermo-ga on 07 Nov 2006 11:14 PST
Hello Politicojojo-ga,

I have posted neither comment nor clarification so far, but have been
quietly working on your question just as you asked it -- a historical
summary of political philosophy -- and I still am. This post is just
to let you know that.



Clarification of Question by politicojojo-ga on 10 Nov 2006 09:58 PST
Thanks for letting me know guillermo. 

For all you out there looking forward to the answer, I have to say
"Philosophy: The Basics" by Nigel Warburton is the closest thing to
what I have been looking for; it's clear and short. However it's weak
in precisely the area I'm interested in (namely politics).  Given the
fact that some philosophers have even been held responsible for the
thinking that led to the holocaust, I'd expect to see a little more
practical information like what ideas led to what political movements
and what was the outcome.  Maybe guillermo's answer will help us with

I'm looking forward to it too.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: frde-ga on 27 Oct 2006 04:51 PDT
When I was studying PPE I went to a presentation by a guy from All
Souls who had managed to combine Dawkins, natural selection and ethics
into a single tentative framework.

At the time I was interested in Von Neumann's examples of Game Theory,
somehow I managed to merge the two and came up with a slightly
inchoate hybrid that, for my Political Theory finals paper, got me an
alpha from one marker and a gamma from the other (marks were supposed
not to be released, but they were).

I am surprized that I've seen not seen much about the tentative
conclusion that I drew, but I've not been doing much in the Political
Philosophy area for about 30 years.

In a nutshell, the primary urge is certainty, or more accurately the
minimization of uncertainty. To achieve this you need predictable
behaviour, which is probably genetically selected.

Ask yourself one question, not what is 'Law', but /why/ is 'Law' ?

I reckon that politics (or social behaviour) is a bit like an inverted
pyramid, the whole structure resting on one small point.

Look at things as an Input-Output machine, or even a soft drink vending machine.

It is simplistic, but most things are, until a wordsmith gets their
hands on things - or even worse, somebody simplifies things at the
wrong level.

For you, political evaluation is easy, simply work out what you would
like to happen (emotional) - and then work out why it will not happen
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: mathtalk-ga on 27 Oct 2006 08:59 PDT
Politics concerns group decision making, so it might be of some
interest to consider the modern philosopher Michel Foucault.  Among
other theses, Foucault held that the mores of "civilized society" are
elaborate masks for our fear of making choices.  Pres. Truman's
desksign, "the buck stops here", is well-known but widely honored in
the breach, as the politics of buck-passing are commonplace.

regards, mathtalk-ga
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: twirly5181-ga on 27 Oct 2006 09:46 PDT
A few comments:
It sounds to me like you are asking for an easy way to gain the
knowledge and insight that others have taken decades to gather and
develop.  Good luck.  Remember, the value of the answers are in what
you have paid for them, and I don't just mean money.

Also, you state that the point of religious philosophy is to prove the
existence of God.  While that may be true in some cases, I would say
that most religious philosophy begins with the assumption of God's
existence, to see how that impacts man's life and values.

Last point: it has always struck me as completely illogical to try to
build a framework of "right and wrong" that can be applied to more
than one person without first admitting that the only valid source of
that definition is external to all of us.  That's how we end up with
"relative morality".  If I believe that murder is good, and I do not
admit the validity of external judgements of my actions, then it
doesn't matter what you think.  In my mind, any philosophical
structure attempting to define right and wrong is an absolute waste of
time if it does not begin with the assumption that the source of that
definition must be external to all of humanity in order to be
applicable to any of us.  This does not in itself prove the existence
of God.  But the fact that we even ask the question "what is right and
wrong?" proves two things: (1) we are not born with that knowledge,
but (2) we are born with a desire to know it.  If we accept that no
human was ever born with that knowledge, but we also have faith that
the knowledge exists, where else could it have come from?  Some
"really smart" person?  I doubt it.
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: usrhlp-ga on 27 Oct 2006 10:27 PDT
I am a rather stupid person from a rich country would that be ok for
you? However you have to remember that if the country was truly poor
where would they get the computers from and secondly electrical lines
to power the thing?

You are basically asking for monkey work however you correctly posted
it as a 200 dollar question. I think that if someone was to answer
this they should be rewarded with at least a 100 - 200 dollar tip.

Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: myoarin-ga on 27 Oct 2006 12:36 PDT

If you are serious about your question, are you going to accept the
recommendation of someone whose credentials you don't know?  There are
obviously conflicting political philosophies.
A "highly educated person in a poor country" may have a
socialist/communist/non-democratic orientation that runs afoul of your
thinking, regardless how well framed the presentation is.

I suggest that you start with a couple of books that do survey
philosophical topics, such as the ones you can find here:

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were very instrumental in shaping the
philosophy on which the US political system is based.
Immanuel Kant also has much to offer.

Communitarianism may also appeal to you.

Good luck, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: frde-ga on 28 Oct 2006 04:28 PDT
In addition, there are encyclopaedias of philosophy, my memories of
them are that they are quite good at getting at the guts of what
someone is trying to say.

I also quite like Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy

My view is that most philosophers have a germ of an idea, and build a
tome around something that would take about a page.
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: politicojojo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 13:18 PDT
thank you all for your comments. Interesting and useful, and at least
if no one answers my question formally, I have some pointers - thank
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: frde-ga on 29 Oct 2006 01:28 PDT
Actually I find your question quite interesting.

It is very likely that there is a sarcastic book out there that gives
a brief and lucid explanation of various philosophers ideas.

The phrasing of your question appears to have rubbed a few people up
the wrong way, which is a pity as what I think you are after is quite
a good idea.

The ideal person to point you in the right direction is a renegade philosopher.

I think that you might find some of them hanging around on The
Straight Dope message board.  Be careful how you phrase your question.

I think you are after 'A Synopsis of Western Philosophers'
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: myoarin-ga on 05 Nov 2006 13:06 PST
Respect, Politicojojo, I am looking forward to the answer.
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: frde-ga on 09 Nov 2006 03:50 PST
Boy, I am really looking forward to seeing this.

It could be a real gem.
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: myoarin-ga on 13 Nov 2006 03:30 PST
Don't give up, Guillermo, we are holding our breath.  :-)
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: guillermo-ga on 25 Nov 2006 11:50 PST
I'm sorry, Politicojojo-ga, but I couldn't make it in time although I
had already most of the information gathered. If you're still
interested in it, I can suggest you repost the same question (you can
sustract the listing 50 cents fee you'll be charged again from the
question price, so that you'll have not even that extra charge), so
I'll have enought time to complete and post my answer. You can mention
my username in the question subject if you want me to be the one to
answer it. I look forwar to you thoughts.


Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: frde-ga on 26 Nov 2006 02:34 PST
What a shame, I've been waiting with interest.
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: guillermo-ga on 26 Nov 2006 11:48 PST
Yes, frde-ga, and shame I feel. I just hope politicojojo-ga still
needs it and reposts the question, so that I can have the opportunity
to complete the work.
Subject: Re: Develop a philosophical framework for politics
From: keystroke-ga on 29 Nov 2006 09:17 PST

We're all waiting for you to repost this question!  You have until
tomorrow, November 30, to repost and let us see Guillermo's great
answer.  Maybe you could get a start on being active in a cause prior
to becoming prime minister by signing this petition:

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