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Power, Authority and Legitimacy

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Submitted By Pezey
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For a society to function effectively, there should be a perfect balance of: Power, authority and legitimacy. These three concepts are interrelated and a society in absence of one or the other usually finds itself in strain from political instability. In the following essay the question “how do Plato, John Locke and Nicollo Machiavelli address the concepts of: power, authority and legitimacy” shall be discussed. Reference shall be made on how each theorist addresses the above concepts.
John Locke addresses the concept of legitimacy. He agrees with Thomas Hobbes in that “the British monarchy lost some of its authority” (John 1689), but he believed it came about because “the monarchy had tried to exceed the scope of its authority” (John 1689).Locke believes the people were acting `natural’ by being disruptive because the monarchy broke the `contract’ by wanting absolute power.
Thomas Hobbes agrees with Locke in that the monarchy “suffered from a failure of authority” (Thomas 1651.part 1) but he believes it came about because the monarchy was careless and didn’t know what was expected from them as a ruler.
Plato also addresses legitimacy in the Greek government. Plato believes that we live in a world of illusions and that the Greek citizens executed themselves when they executed Socrates. Plato tells us illusions can be dangerous “allegory of the cave” (Spragens 1997).
Machiavelli deals with power and “believes a good state, is a state that is well ruled” (Machiavelli 1513 chapter12) He believes that unrest is caused by the lust for power. And believes power should be worked for and not afforded.
In the above essay it is evident how: power, legitimacy and authority affect different societies and if implemented how they can bring change according to the theories. It is also evident how the concepts were interpreted and addressed by the different theorists.…...

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