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Professional Work - Essay Example

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Rationality is a powerful mode of thought and code of conduct in the modern world. Its emergence in the early twentieth century offered a clear vision of social order as a panacea for inefficiency and chaos, replacing former ideologies such as Social Darwinism, welfare capitalism, and religious discourses of labor…
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Professional Work
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Download file to see previous pages In this respect, attachment to the ideal of a rationally governed society is no exception. The acceptance of the basic norms of the model carry implications for the ideologies that shape the way we see our world and for the conceptions that govern our individual modes of political activity (Spragens, 1990).
In ideological terms, the ideal of a rational society has distinctive but not entirely determinate implications. It clearly disqualifies some ideological conceptions. It tends to crosscut certain other conventional ideological cleavages. And it leaves some ideological space open as an area in which reasonable people may differ.
Some ideologies seem clearly unable to qualify by the norms of rational practice. In these cases, it is either/or: one either must renounce the intrinsic norms of rationality or forfeit the ideological orientation. The overt antirationalism of fascist ideologies, for example, would seem to disqualify them immediately. One cannot deprecate the power or validity of rational discourse; argue for forms of political authority grounded in purely emotional appeal and manipulation rather than rational consent, and convert natural differences of race or ability into political hierarchies without decisively abandoning key standards of rational practice (Spragens, 1990).
The ideal of a rational society crosscuts liberalism, conservatism, and democratic socialism -- each of these being a part of the larger tradition of Western liberalism in the broadest sense. It incorporates some of the leading values and goals of each of them. The liberal, for instance, would consider the rational society's insistence upon individual rights and civil liberties the most important part of the model. The socialist would emphasize the elements of equality and community. And the conservative would find the role of the human good and the norms of civility quite consistent with his or her dominant political concerns. The bearing of the conception of a rational society on these ideologies, then, is not so much to single one of them out as superior to the others. Instead, it would suggest that each represents a somewhat narrow and parochial conception of the good society -- one in which some aspects of the good society are given undue ascendancy while others are unnecessarily subordinated or forgotten.
In sum, acceptance of the rational process conception of liberal democracy exercises a broad influence over political practice by constraining ideological affiliations and shaping political self-images. Many possible orientations to the world of politics are precluded, obligations are mandated, rights and privileges validated -- all in ways that exert a pervasive control over what can be seen as acceptable political behavior. As we turn now to examine some more specific institutional patterns and policies suggested by the norms of rational practice, it is worth remembering that these more subliminal influences on our actions may be the most important of them all (Spragens, 1990).
The heart of a rational society is democratic discourse about the common good. A society committed to the norms of rational process will therefore give continual and careful attention to measures that can sustain and strengthen this central social institution.
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