Law, Politics, and Philosophy

Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Atty. MICHAEL JHON M. TAMAYAO manages this blog. Contact:

Basic Concepts in Politics


1. Definition: politics is the way in which we understand and order our social affairs, and acquire greater control over the situation.[1]

It is also the strategy for maintaining cooperation among people with different needs and ideals in life, or for resolving the conflict within the group, whether this is a family, a tribe, a village or a nation-state.[2]

2. Basic Concepts: order, power, and justice

a. Study of politics seeks to study how human life in the aggregate is ordered.[3]

i. Community – one kind of social order which is an association of individuals who share a common identity. This identity is usually defined by geography, sense of common purpose, and a single political allegiance. It arises to fulfill a wide variety of social functions (such as physical security, economic prosperity, cultural enrichment) that cannot be met by individuals acting on their own.[4]

ii. Government – a political order that maintains and perpetuates the community. It is said to possess “sovereignty” if it can successfully assert its claim to rule. And it is said to “legitimate” if its claim to rule (authority) is willingly accepted.


  1. Monarchy – one man (king) noted for his noble lineage and honor is vested with the right to rule and control the society. If this man pursues his own selfish interest, this form of government may turn into “Tyranny.”
  2. Aristocracy – a selected few who are known for their wealth and education have the right to rule. If this selected few pursue their own personal interests, this form of government may end up in becoming an “Oligarchy.”
  3. Democracy – it is the rule by the people, for the people, and of the people. If this form of government downgrades into the rule of people’s passions instead or reason, it becomes “Demagoguery” or “Mobocracy.”

iii. Nation-state – most distinctive and largest self-sufficient political configuration in the modern world… its actions and reactions affect not only the welfare and destiny of its own people but, increasingly, the fate of peoples in other lands.[5]

1. Nation is a distinct group of people who share a common background including any or all of the following: geographic location, history, racial or ethnic characteristics, religion, language, culture, and belief in common political ideas.

2. State denotes the existence of a viable, sovereign government exercising authority and power in the name of the society. It is often used synonymously with country and nation, although a nation may be composed of more than one state, like USA. In more technical and formal terms, state is a community of persons more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, having a government of their own to which the great body of inhabitants render obedience, and enjoying freedom from external control.[6]

b. The government cannot maintain order w/o power.

i. There are many sources of power aside from physical force.

Ex. Wealth, eloquent oratory, vigilant secret police, cunning

ii. The more abundant the power source, the greater the capabilities of the government.

iii. Who rules? In accordance with the law, or is it the just or the moral?

c. When the power is exercised in the interest of the ruled, there is justice.

Aristotle (384-322 BC)

– “Human beings use reason and language to declare what is just and unjust. Therefore it is the peculiarity of man, in comparison with the rest of the animal world, that he alone possesses a perception of the good and evil. Human faculties make moral judgment and therefore also political discussion. “

3. Politics and Everyday Life

a. Politics is all about the way human beings are governed, which involves order, power, and justice.[7] It is not just an abstract study.

b. It involves the government’s day-to-day performance.

c. It does not affect only one individual, but is inextricably bound up with the perpetual quest for what is fair or just in light of the interest of the entire community.

d. Issue is more or less political based on the extent that the use of political power affects the lives and well-being of private citizens.

e. An issue becomes political when the government must render a decision, which must always be for the common good of the community.

4. How is politics studied?

a. Traditional Approach: to understand the truth about politics (Aristotle); to assess how well a particular policy, process, or institution works; what politics ought to be.

Confucius, Lao tzu, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx

b. Behavioral Approach: place little emphasis on abstract or normative political questions, and focus on more concrete task of describing and predicting political behaviors and the dynamics and outcomes of political processes; avoids moral and philosophical judgments; considers only those which can be scientifically proved; does not study “values”, only facts, which can be measured by means of scientific method (quantifiable).

But because of complexity of human behavior, experts argue over methodology.

5. Purpose of Political Science

a. By studying political science, we become more aware of our dependence on the political system and better equipped to determine when to favor and when to oppose change.[8]

b. to be able to advise communities on how to become more effective.

c. To have better political  opinions and decisions.

d. to foster moral and intellectual growth.[9]

6. What’s wrong with politics nowadays?

a. It deviates from the concept of good politics, which ought to be a reflection of the aspirations to contribute to the happiness of the community and not of the need to deceive or pillage the community.[10]

b. It is now associated with art of deception, intrigues, demagoguery and ruthless egoism.[11]

7. Politics in the Philippines[12]

a. takes place in an organized framework of a presidential, representative, and democratic republic.

b. It revolves around the three separate and sovereign yet interdependent branches: the legislative branch (the law-making body), the executive branch (the law-enforcing body), and the judicial branch (the law-interpreting body).

1. Executive power is exercised by the government under the leadership of the president.

2. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two-chamber congress — the Senate (the upper chamber) and the House of Representatives (the lower chamber).

3. Judicial power is vested in the courts with the Supreme Court of the Philippines as the highest judicial body.

[1] B. Ponton and P. Gill, Politics, Introduction. (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1982), p.6.

[2] Amable G. Tuibeo, “Politics and Governance: A Critical Introduction (Makati: Grandwater Publication, 1998), p . 1.

[3] Thomas M. Magstadt & Peter M. Schoten, “Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions, & Issues. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988), p. 4.

[4] Ibid. p. 5.

[5] Ibid. p. 5-7.

[6] Garner, Introduction to Political Science, pp. 38-41.

[7] Ibid. p. 7.

[8] Ibid., p. 21

[9] Ibid.

[10] The New York Review of Books, Feb 15, 1990, p. 22.

[11] Tuibeo, p. 11.

[12] Wikipedia free enclyclopedia

One comment on “Basic Concepts in Politics

  1. Zon Quewea
    October 2, 2013

    Very important for American voters. If our basic concept of politics is based on this, we will reduce the redtape and government shut down in Washington D.C. And even before we elect anyone, we would have an idea how s/he will lead us. And most importantly faces of leadership will always change in every election circle at the local and national levels. Thanks

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This entry was posted on November 19, 2010 by in Politics and Governance.




Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Atty. MICHAEL JHON M. TAMAYAO manages this blog. He is currently starting his private law practice. Contact:; Tel. No. 09353343739. PROFILE: Atty. Tamayao is currently teaching law, philosophy and social sciences at the Cagayan State University. He finished his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy degree at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Santo Tomas and graduated in 2005, garnering the highest academic honors in that Academic Year. He pursued Licentiate in Philosophy and Master of Arts in Philosophy degrees at the same university, completing them both in 2007. In 2009, he took up Bachelor of Laws and Letter at the Cagayan State University, where he also teaches. He passed the 2013 bar exams, and now currently taking up Master of Laws and Letters at the San Beda Graduate School of Law.

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