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Unit VI Roles of a Citizen. Unit VI: Roles of a Citizen Key Understandings: There is a balance between individual rights and the power of the government. The Bill of Rights acts as a safeguard for individuals against arbitrary powers.

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Unit vi roles of a citizen

Unit VI

Roles of a Citizen

Unit vi roles of a citizen

  • Unit VI: Roles of a Citizen

  • Key Understandings:

  • There is a balance between individual rights and the power of the government.

  • The Bill of Rights acts as a safeguard for individuals against arbitrary powers.

  • A successful democracy requires participation by an informed electorate.

  • People are born with natural rights that cannot be denied by other individuals or groups.

  • It is the people’s obligation to ensure that the government abides by the Constitution, either through their elected representative or political participation.

  • The institutions of state and federal government can influence the rights and liberties of American citizens

Unit vi roles of a citizen

Key Terms:

Individualism- the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-relianceand advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group,while opposing external interference upon one's own interests by society or institutions such as the government.

Collective action- traditionally defined as any action aiming to improve the group’s conditions (such as status or power), which is enacted by a representative of the group. It is a term that has formulations and theories in many areas of the social sciences including psychology, sociology, political science and economics. Economic theory of collective action is concerned with the provision of public goods (and other collective consumption) through the collaboration of two or more individuals, and the impact of externalities on group behavior. It is more commonly referred to as Public Choice

Natural Rights- Political theory that maintains that an individual enters into society with certain basic rights and that no government can deny these rights. The modern idea of natural rights grew out of the ancient and medieval doctrines of natural law, i.e., the belief that people, as creatures of nature and God, should live their lives and organize their society on the basis of rules and precepts laid down by nature or God. With the growth of the idea of individualism, especially in the 17th cent., natural law doctrines were modified to stress the fact that individuals, because they are natural beings, have rights that cannot be violated by anyone or by any society.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

Key Terms:

Negative Rights- Aright not to be subjected to an action of another person or group—a government, for example—usually in the form of abuse or coercion. I terms negative rights, others have a duty not to interfere. In other words these are rights that impose a negative duty on someone else. Examples are free speech and religious freedom and other liberties.

Positive Rights- Positive rights impose duties or obligations on others to provide goods or services, or to act in a certain way. Positive rights may include civil and political rights such as police protection of person and property and the right to counsel, as well as economic, social and cultural rights such as food, housing, public education, employment, national security, military, health care, social security, internet access, and a minimum standard of living. Positive rights often necessitate a contract.

Utility Maximization- Notion that people are generally motivated to do what is best for them, to purchase the most satisfying goods, to make the decisions that do more good than harm, to improve their overall living standards and well-being, that is, to maximize their utility.

Rational Decisions- A decision made by person that is intended to produce the greatest benefit or satisfaction consistent with that person’s highest self-interest. Perceived rational decisions derive from the information available to the person. There is debate between philosophers as to whether or not it is even possible to determine the rationality of other people’s decisions.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

Key Terms:

Equilibrium- Balance between cost and benefits. In this unit we will look at the cost and benefits to individuals and society.

Tyranny of the majority- The fear that in a democratic system where majority rules, that the majority can use their voting advantage to advance their interests so far above those of an individual or minority group as to constitute active oppression.

Tyranny of the minority- argument that narrow and well organized minorities are more likely to assert their interests over those of the majority. Idea that when the benefits of political action (e.g., lobbying) are spread over fewer agents, there is a stronger individual incentive to contribute to that political activity. Narrow groups, especially those who can reward active participation to their group goals, might therefore be able to dominate or distort political process, a process studied in public choice theory.

Civil Rights (political rights)- Rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.

Equality- All men are created equal in rights. There is great debate over the concepts of Equality of opportunity vs . Equality of outcomes.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

  • Key People/Groups:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt- President of the United States from 1933 to 1944. Under his watch the New Deal and the 2nd New Deal were created and many of the policies are still around today.

  • John Locke- Enlightened philosopher who reasoned that man was had natural rights that included; Life, Liberty, and Property. Man entered into a social contract with government to protect his natural rights. Revolution was justified in the event that the government violated man’s natural rights.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

  • Important Documentsand outside readings:

  • The Bill of Rights

  • Written in 1789, the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution were written to prevent arbitrary abuses by the national government against the people or the states.

  • FDR’s second Bill of Rights- President Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union address includes what he called a second Bill of Rights. FDR’s second Bill of Rights are economic rights that FDR felt that all citizens were entitled to enjoy.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

The basic unit of decision making whether socially, politically, or economically is the individual. It is true that individuals may form groups, parties, businesses, and other types of coalitions but each one of these examples comprises individual decision makers. As an individual we have the ability to make decisions to improve out lives.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”- Thomas Jefferson

Individual Worth

With these words Thomas Jefferson articulates the most fundamental and important concept of individualism, each one of us has worth. We all have a life- of course, but consider the fact that nobody’s life is exactly the same. People today and in the past have lived different types of lives. Some have been rich while others lived in poverty. Some ended up being famous for doing great deeds while others lived most of their live in jail. People have lived and still live different types of lives, but there is one thing that every person who has ever walked the earth has in common with each other. It is the simple truth that nobody lives forever. The resource that is most scarce for each one of us is time.

When you analysis any decision that has an opportunity cost, it is in its most basic form a measure of time. Our time is limited and is valuable.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

Liberty is the ability of each individual to have control over their own actions and to use their limited time in a manner that best suits their wants.

Self-Interest (utility maximization)

Each individual has been gifted with natural abilities to utilize in a manner that suits their best interest. We are entitled to the fruits of our labor. In a way each individual’s natural gifts are their property. And as with other forms of property, we can use those gifts, we can trade the results of those gifts, and we can waste those gifts. Each of use has been given the natural rights to live freely and to make decisions to improve ourselves.

Rational Decisions

As individuals we have the opportunity to make decisions everyday. People make decisions with the intention to improve themselves and to promote their interests. Perceived rational decisions derive from the information available to the person. Of course nobody makes perfect choices every time. And there is even debate between philosophers as to whether or not it is even possible to determine the rationality of other people’s decisions. A rational decision is a decisions that is consistent with the priorities of a person. Often inconsistencies arrive from either imperfect information or when people are dishonest with themselves about what is really important to them.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

Cooperation and Competition over their own actions and to use their limited time in a manner that best suits their wants.

We live in a society with other people who have just as much of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and as a result an individual exercising his or her rights often comes in competition with other individuals exercising their rights. Society has created institutions to promote cooperation.


As stated in the beginning of the course

there needs to be balance or equilibrium

between competing forces or in other words

competing decision makers.

What methods or institutions as society created to ensure cooperation between competing decision makers? Think socially, politically, and economically.

Unit vi roles of a citizen

The individual most basic decision maker in society politically and economically

Natural rights- negative rights The impact of society - when rights competeIndividual rights vs collective actionlimiting natural rights and providing positive rights Fear tyrannyTyranny of the majorityTyranny of the minority Basic natural rights outlined in the bill of Rights and the 14th amendment For the following rights write about all sub topics if it applies.


Self Worth- we all have equal self worth, the product of work is not always equal

Self Interest (maximize utility)

Rational Decisions- making informed decisions that are consistent with priorities, only the individual can truly know what is rational for himself or herself

Conflict and Cooperation, when rights conflict

Equilibrium (competing forces balance) cost = benefit

In this situation the private cost= portion of shared social benefit

Or private benefit= portion of share social cost

Unit vi roles of a citizen

1st amendment politically and economically Define and outline An economic interpretation - free market of ideas, public good, cost/benefits In society In school In the economyIn political Limitations (maybe covered in economic)2nd amendment Same4, 5,6,7,8, 10, 149th - only explain - Madison's fear of the unintentional outcome of a list of rights - only rights recognized Equality All men are created equal What does equal mean ?Equal opportunity not equality in results Positive rights Fdr second bill of rights - agree disagree?America moving forward and your role Civil rights and civil liberties Economic interpretation - when can you rights be limited Social rights and responsibilities

Unit vi roles of a citizen

Economic decision makers politically and economically

Social decision makers- government or free market (reputation) enforcement

Political decision makers

Unit vi roles of a citizen

Bastait politically and economically on negative and positive rights

Nineteenth-century philosopher Frederic Bastiat summarized the conflict between these negative and positive rights by saying: