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American Government & Law Michael Thurston Room 131. Unit One: The Philosophical and Historical Foundations of American Government & Law. Charting the Unit. Utility & Jeremy Bentham Natural Rights Philosophy & John Locke Immanuel Kant’s answer to Bentham & Locke

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charting the unit
Charting the Unit
  • Utility & Jeremy Bentham
  • Natural Rights Philosophy & John Locke
  • Immanuel Kant’s answer to Bentham & Locke
  • Influences on the Constitution
    • Ancient World (Aristotle)
    • England
    • Colonies
    • Declaration of Independence
    • State Constitutions
  • Why the Articles of Confederation Suck
  • The Framers and the Framing
  • The National Debate
    • The Federalist Papers!!
  • Ratification
the declaration of independence

“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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government,…”

The Declaration of Independence
natural rights philosophy
Natural Rights Philosophy
  • John Locke
  • “State of Nature”
  • The scenario:
  • Six questions – EXPLAIN each answer!
    • Upon arrival would there be any government or laws?
    • Would anyone have the right to govern?
    • Would you have any rights? If so, what?
    • What might stronger or smarter people try to do?
    • What would the weaker or less-smart try to do?
    • What would life be like?
james madison
James Madison

“If men were angels there would be no need of government.”

immanuel kant 1724 1804
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
  • The Critique of Pure Reason
  • The Metaphysics of Morals
  • Rejects both Bentham and Locke
  • All people have dignity
  • All people are capable of reason and choosing freely the right thing to do.
immanuel kant
Immanuel Kant
  • Bentham was half right
  • Pleasure and pain are NOT our masters
  • Kant is more concerned with freedom and morality
  • What is freedom?
    • Do what ever you want?
    • Libertarian viewpoint
    • The Netherlands
immanuel kant1
Immanuel Kant
  • Are you choosing freely?
  • Are you a slave to your desires?
  • Are you choosing for the right reasons?
  • Are you acting out of your own reason?
immanuel kant2
Kant’s Conception of Freedom

Kant’s Conception of Morality

  • To act freely = to act autonomously
    • To act according to a law I give myself
  • Opposite = heteronomy
    • Acting according to desires NOT chosen by me
  • To act freely is not to choose the best means to an end, but rather to choose the end for its own sake
  • Morality lies not in the consequences or even in the results – but in the motive
  • Do the right thing for the right reason
  • The only motive that matters = DUTY
  • Opposite of duty = inclination
Immanuel Kant
duty vs inclination
Duty vs. Inclination
  • Shopkeeper
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Cheating at Winslow High School
influences on the constitution
Influences on the Constitution

* European Philosophy

  • State Constitutions
  • Classical Republicanism
what is a constitution
What is a Constitution?
  • Simple definition:
    • A set of customs, traditions, rules, and laws that sets forth the basic way a govt. is organized and operated.
  • Using this definition…every nation has a constitution
  • What can you find out by reading one?
  • Having a constitution does NOT mean a nation has a constitutional government
  • Higher power must be obeyed by ALL – including those in power
characteristics of a constitution according to the founders
Characteristics of a Constitution – according to the founders
  • Natural Rights
  • Protection of rights
  • Private domain
  • Difficult to change
  • Federalism
  • So…rights protected by limiting government & distribution of power (organizational protection)

“Give all the power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all the power to the few, they will oppress the many.”

    • Alexander Hamilton
  • “There are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money.”
    • Ben Franklin
  • From the nature of man, we may be sure that those who have power in their hands…will always, when they can…increase it.”
    • George Mason
  • Paper assigned
  • Reading / gathering info
  • Outline & pre-write
  • Write & rewrite! Use the week!
  • Finalize & turn in…on time

Don’t use ‘I’

White paper…TNR…size 12

Impress me with insight, not special effects

MLA format, citing sources within the text

the set up
The Set-up
  • Decide on thesis first, then build around it
  • Structure:
    • Introduction
      • Lead-in
      • Underlined thesis
      • Methods of proof sentence
set up
  • Structure
    • Body
      • Explanation of methods
      • Your insights!
      • Prove your understanding
      • Be cogent
      • Refute other side if appropriate
      • Conclusion
thesis methods
Thesis & Methods
  • Thesis: a single provable statement.
  • Methods: The ammunition to prove my thesis
  • Example:
    • John F. Kennedy’s religion played no role in the Election of 1960. The “Delaware press conference”, the West Virginia primary, and final vote count according to religious affiliation show this to be the case.
classical republicanism
Classical Republicanism
  • Civic virtue
  • Moral education
  • Small uniform communities
  • Shared experience
  • Today?
colonies states
Colonies  States
  • Ancient world…England…Enlightenment…Colonies…Declaration of Independence…
  • New states = “state of nature”
  • After the Revolution states create their own constitutions
new state constitutions
New State Constitutions
  • Six Common Basic Ideas:
  • Higher law & natural rights (and declarations of other rights - VA)
  • Social contract
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Representation & the right to vote
  • Legislative supremacy
  • Checks & balances

Massachusetts is a little different

the articles of confederation a study of failure
The Articles of ConfederationA Study of Failure
  • If the Founders were so bright…
  • Two problems influenced the document:
    • Fear of a strong national government
    • Fear that some states would dominate others
time for a change
The Wake up Call

Say Something Nice

  • Shay’s Rebellion
  • What were the achievements??
    • Winning a revolution
    • European diplomacy
    • Northwest ordinance
    • Public education
Time for a Change
the constitutional convention
The Constitutional Convention
  • 55 delegates
  • George Washington
  • James Madison
  • George Mason
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Ben Franklin
  • James Wilson
  • Who was not there?
the virginia plan
The Virginia Plan
  • Madison made sure it was the basis for discussions at the Convention
  • Major recommendations:
    • Federal system
    • 3 branches
    • Bicameral legislature
    • MUCH more powerful central government
the new jersey plan
The New Jersey Plan
  • William Paterson
  • Legislature with increased powers
  • Executive & judicial branches
the constitution is written now it has to be ratified
The Constitution is written…now it has to be ratified
  • Very different = some real fear
  • Examples:
  • Ben Franklin
  • George Mason
  • Federalists
  • Anti-Federalists
the anti federalist position
The Anti-Federalist Position
  • Should have been open to the public
  • Undermines a republican form of government
  • Central govt. = too powerful
  • “necessary & proper” clause
  • An army during peace time????
the federalist position
  • Most change in government = by accident or force…ours = reflection and choice
  • Good government = effective government
the federalist papers
The Federalist Papers
  • James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay
  • 85 Essays
  • PubliusValerius writing to Solon
  • 1-14: Argument for Union
  • 15-22: Defects of Articles
  • 23-36: Need for strong govt.
  • 37-51: General characteristics
  • 52-83: Branches
  • 84 & 85: Conclusion
your federalist poster must include
Your Federalist Poster Must include:
  • One image that captures the theme.
  • A slogan that does the same.
  • 5 quotes that you can explain.
  • Federalist 39: The Conformity of the Plan to Republican Principles
  • This Constitution conforms to the standard of our ancient heroes!
  • “The proposed Constitution, therefore, even when tested by the rules laid down by its antagonists, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both.”