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The Tyranny of UtilityBehavioral Social Science and the Rise of Paternalism$
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Gilles Saint-Paul

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691128177

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691128177.001.0001

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Political Organization and the Conception of Man

Political Organization and the Conception of Man

(p.7) 1 Political Organization and the Conception of Man
The Tyranny of Utility

Gilles Saint-Paul

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses political organization and the conception of Man. Westerners are proud of their political institutions. They associate them with a high material standard of living, a great variety of individual choices, freedom of speech, and checks and balances that prevent governments from drifting toward despotism. Because these institutions are so satisfying, they are tempted to believe that they are universal. A culture influences the determination of political institutions through many channels. One is its conception of Man, which is itself the outcome of a long evolution in the history of thought. This tradition states that the individual is autonomous and his aspirations respectable. That is why it places much emphasis on individual rights and has given birth to Lockean theories of governments where the legitimacy of power is grounded in the consent of individuals to participate in a social contract rather than some immanent divine order.

Keywords:   Man, political institutions, autonomy, individual rights, Lockean theory, legitimacy of power, social contract, divine order

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