The moral foundations of political legitimacy

Course Project Overview

It’s time to submit the Final Draft of your Course Project. Please take a moment to go back to Module 2 and review the instructions for the project and to make certain you have met all of the requirements. Use attachments to complete this assignment. Must be 6 to 8 pages in length, plus cover page and referenc page.

The course project requires you to research and write an analytical paper comparing and contrasting the political views of two philosophers on one of the following areas:

Human Conflict – the nature and causes thereof.

The best or best possible cooperative social arrangements, capable of resolving or diminishing society’s common problems.

The moral foundations of political legitimacy (what is the good state).

Who should govern – one, few, or many?

Within your paper discuss how the views of your two chosen philosophers on the one chosen political issue relate to that same political issue today. Share your own well-supported views on the matter in a conclusion.

Due Date

Your final project is due in Module 05. There will be individual assignments along the way. The module they are due is noted in the time line below.

Time Line




Announce Topic


Detailed Outline, Annotated Bibliography


Final Project Due


Your paper should be 6-8 full pages in length, plus a cover page and a References Page.

Choose from philosophers you have been studying in this course. One example: compare and contrast the views of Plato and Karl Marx on who should govern. If you want to choose a philosopher not covered in the course, check first with your faculty member.

As you write, keep the following in mind:

Use clear, concise, complete sentences, transitions between paragraphs, standard spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Include at least six citations from different research sources. At least three should come from your college’s online library. Other options include reliable, collegiate level sources on the Internet and your own local library. Follow APA format for citing your research sources.

Running head: Announce Topic 1




Announce Topic

Name: Rodney Wheeler

Institution: Rasmussen College

Course: G440/POT4001 Section 02 Political Thought

Date: 02/25/18












It is widely known that man is a sociopolitical animal. It is in this view that issues of who should govern have dominated the human race since time immemorial. This paper seeks to analyze the ideas of two widely regarded philosophers-Plato and Karl max on who should really govern the society. Plato is widely regarded as the father of modern education system since most European universities took after his Academy. His views on social classes are still evident today and his arguments are widely used by people of all cadres to date. Karl Marx, on the other hand, is regarded by some as the father of social sciences and his economic insights form a solid platform on which the society trades today. These two philosophers, however, present completely conflicting ideas on who should really be the head of a society and this paper seeks to sit on the edge, look at the two, examine the practicality of both and their application in the modern world.










Comparison Between Plato and Karl Marx on Who Should Govern.

Karl Marx has a loathing attitude towards the ruling class. He believes that they formulate the laws and standards of the society for their own gain, (Marx, 1970). This is a direct challenge to the common notion that values within a society are independent of economic or political interference. He argues that while the normal citizens are busy doing the day to day chores, a few elite class are busy formulating and developing ideas that are later reinforced as meant for common good to all concerned. He believes that these ideas by the ruling few serve only the interests of the elite few. For this reason, Marx supports a system of government where everyone rules. Marx finds this way of leadership lacking and instead argues that it is the economic production that really shapes the prevailing ideas and gives meaning to the government. He, therefore, emphasizes the importance of considering popular culture in government, essentially inclining towards a democratic system.

Sharply contrasting Karl’s view on who should rule society are Plato’s arguments. Plato was born and raised in an elite political family and many people expected him to take a political position in the then government. However, this did not take place. His arguments are largely thought to have been influenced by Solon, a ruler that existed more than one hundred and fifty years before he was born. At the time of his growing up, there was anarchy caused by what he viewed as excessive freedom brought by democracy. It is therefore only reasonable that he advocates for a system whereby the society is ruled by a chosen elite whom he refers to as philosopher-rulers. These are people who according to him, have extensive knowledge about the ‘city’ and are in the best position to make important decisions such as declaring war. He proposes that these elites should not be allowed to own property as it corrupts morals. By this, Plato is also advocating for social stratification whereby there exists a ruling class, made of philosopher-rulers that have leisure and respect, the guardian class that guards the city and the producers that provide goods for the city, enjoying wealth, family life but no honor or privilege to rule. He suggests that these three social classes still remain friends.

The aforementioned views by the two philosophers have their limits. Marx aim was to create a system of equality for all where the society worked out as a common unit. This did not work then and even in today’s world, remains a utopic dream. Marx also presents the normal citizens as passively approving of the ruling ideas which are not a true reflection of the society as people actively agree or reject government proposals in popular culture. His ideas also fail to acknowledge the existence of alternative ideas that are present in most societies. Plato’s views are viewed as totalitarian largely because of restricting ownership to private property and family life to the philosopher-rulers. There also lies a danger by individuals regarding themselves to be in the best capacity to govern whereas they got little to offer. These individuals risk isolation from political realities. The philosophers who you find in the philosophy departments today aren’t what Plato intended. His definition was rather ideal where the philosopher-rulers were chosen from the brightest and most courageous children and then underwent extensive training and learning to later emerge as the most highly educated and capable leaders. This is not practical today.

Most of the political systems in the world today borrow from both Platonic and Marxist arguments. The ruling class made up of specific political parties that take turns to govern is still present in the world today. This was Plato’s idea. However, this political class has been accused many times of making rules and decisions that only favor the elite few hence validating Marx ideas. The society today is rather stratified into the ruling class, the middle class and the poor. This is akin to Plato’s philosopher-rulers, guardians and producer classes. Most of the political systems in the world today also exercise a form of restricted democracy. This is manifested through rights and privileges to citizens while the government still has the power to cut off those rights at any time. The political systems have been unable to adopt the Platonic idea of a ruling class that does not own property or enjoy family life and instead the political ruling class today are some of the richest people on earth. Corruptions and self-gratification have replaced Platonic aim of a ruling class that serves justice to all concerned. As time goes by, people are largely voting for the political leaders based on their ability to transform the economy. The manifestos of presidential candidates are riddled with strategic economic plans and the most impressive ones win. This is a confirmation of Karl’s idea that the economy is the main basis of a society. It is therefore clear that the modern political system in most parts of the world is a sandwich of Marxist and Platonic ideas.












1. Karpowicz, K. Plato: Political Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from

2. Kershaw, T (2012, August 21). The religion and political views of Karl Marx. The Hollowverse. Retrieved from

3. Zaykova, A. (2014, June 19).” Ruling class and ruling ideas by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels-A summary. Midnight Media Musings. Retrieved from

4. Marx K. and Engels F. (1970). Ruling class and ruling ideas. Cultural theory and popular culture: A Reader.4th ed. Essex: Pearson, 2009.

5. Matassa, Giulia (2013, April 17). Plato’s Argument for Rule by Philosopher Kings. E-INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS STUDENTS. Accessed from

6. Jowett, Benjamin (1892). [The Dialogues of Plato Translated into English with analyses and introductions by B. Jowett.], Oxford Clarendon Press, Uk, UIN: BLL01002931898

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