Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit
Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (Procedural and Substantive
i) Emphasizes on procedures and Rules (outcome is fair)
ii) Equality of opportunity.
iv) This theory is supported by liberals.
v) Market society is the practical implication
i) Outcome are more emphasized.
ii) Equality of outcome.
iii) Need instead of merit
iv) Supported by socialists.
v) State controlled economy
Relationship between Market and Justice.
i) Liberal view — Emphasis on fairness moral of Impersonal self —Liberty,
efficiency of distribution and production.
Relationship between market and Justice is very complex.
Liberals believe that Justice can be Secured through market but within
liberalism, there is lack of unanimity some liberals particularly libertarians
believe that market is the only way to secure Justice, they give many arguements
to support their view, for them fairness is essential for justice which is only
possible in market society because market society is self regulated and
impersonal for them liberty forms the core of the idea of Justice. Market system
is most suited. For liberty. For them Justice means treatment according to
merit, which is possible in the market system only. Market is the most efficient
system lending to winder prosperity in the society from which ultimately all the
But there are some other liberals, particularly the
egalitarian liberal John Rawls who believes that market secures Justice but
market is not the only way to secure Justice, Some measure of welfarism is also
Socialist views-No market fairness of market is a wrong assumption, based for
Bargaining power for labour is reduced merit is a social constrict, profit
instead of need is the giving force for market.
Opposed to the liberal view, Socialist view believes that
Justice cannot be secured through market what we call fairness in the market
system is only a myth. Market is class baised. They also believe that to talk
about liberty in a market society is ridiculous the liberty in market system is
basically the liberty of a particular class which owners the means of production
socialists give more importance to equality than liberty and equality cannot be
brought through market. At the best, market can issue legal equality (equality
before law) but not socioeconomic equality which is more important socialists
also believe that merit is a social construct, secondly there is no objective.
Criteria to determine merit. Therefore instead of merit, need should be the
criteria for Justice.
Ideal theory of Justice
Most of the theories either emphasize on merit or need. But
both merit and need have their own problems. If merit is made the criteria then
logically certain individuals will be forced to lead a subhuman life. Secondly,
what is merit? It is a disputed issue and it is a subjective question to decide
merit. Need has its own problems. In every society, resources are limited,
therefore practically it is not possible to fulfill the needs of every
individual. Secondly if need principle is accepted then state will decide the
needs which may increase the powers of the state therefore as a middle path both
the principles may be combined. The basic needs of every individual irrespective
of his contribution to the society should be fulfilled, after this resources
should be distributed on the basis of merit.
Relationship between liberty Equality and Justice
Liberty and justice—not disputed (complementary)
Liberlism — Liberty —Justice
Socialists —liberty — Justice
Dispute over the question of liberty and equality attain justice.
Equality and Justice —Disputed
Socialists believe it is complimentary. Supported to good extent by
Libertarians believe equality and Justice are contradictory. Hayak, Nozick
they believe in legal equality only too much state action to attain
socio-political Justice may disrupt individuals liberty.
The relationship between liberty equality and Justice is very
complex, Regarding the relationship between liberty and Justice there is less
dispute and most of the philosophers agree that they are complimentary to each
other liberty is a part of Justice but there are some, minor differences on the
issue weather liberty is the primary aspect of Justice for equality liberals
support liberty, where socialists support equality.
Regarding the relation between equality and Justice it is
more disputed. There are two divergent view (i) they are contradictory to each
other (ii) they are complementary to each other. The relationship between these
ideals is not absolute but contextual for example, Before 1918 in Britain women
did not had right to vote and it was considered Just but today is considered
highly unjustice Equality and Justice (contradictory view) –A lent Greek
Philosopher’s Plato and Aristotle supported this view. In his scheme of plato
discuss about three classes the rulers, soldiers and producers for Plato, rulers
are the individuals of Gold, soldiers are the individual of silver and producers
a the individuals of iron. (ii) Aristotle in his scheme of distributive Justice
talk of proportional equality which in practice becomes in equality. Negative
liberals like Herbert Spencer also rejected equality as un just. Formulation a
theory of “Social Darwanism”, Spencer maintains that like nature in society also
there is struggle for existence and survival of the fittest therefore inequality
is natural phenomena. All attempts to bring equality are unjust. (iii)
Comtemporary libertarian philosophers also support this view. Philosophers like
Hayak and Nozick believe in only one form of equality we legal equality. They
oppose socio-economic equality because it curtails freedom and disturbs. He
autonomous market society.
(Complimentary view)— Many socialists, equalitarian and
positive liberals support this view but here also for socialists, equality is
the prime aspect of Justice But for equalitarians and positive liberals,
equality and Justice are complimentary and equality and Justice are
complimentary and equality is secondary to liberty.
(i) The purpose of liberty equality and Justice is same i.e. to create better
conditions of life for the individual and a better social order.
(ii) Justice is a synthetic idea which balances and resolves the claims of
various other ideals like liberty and equality.
(iii) The purpose of Justice is to treat each individual as an end in itself.
This is possible only in an atmosphere of equality because in the absence of
equality certain privilages may exist which will make some individuals means to
fulfill the end of some other individuals.
(iv) Justice means, to give each individual his night place and due in the
society. Both liberty and equality are needed for this.
(v) All forms of Justice are based on equality for example legal justice or rule
of law fair legal system, each individual has the access to judiciary etc. In
the absence of legal equality, none of them is possible.
Political Justice means the political system of the state is
fair enough so that it gives each individual some shore in the system. In the
absence of political and economic equality it is meaning social Justice means
treating each individual a respectable unit of the society and creation of a
social environment where nobody becomes the means to fulfill some others ends.
It is not possible in the absence of social equality.
Economic Justice means that the economic system works fairly in favour of all
the class of the society, basic needs of all the individuals are fulfilled and
each individual has the fair opportunity to develop to the highest extent. These
things are not possible if vast socio-economic disparities exist.
Legal —Hobbes, bodin, Austin
Views of Bodin Austin , Laski, Kautilya, contemporary relevance.
What is sovereignty?
Sovereignty means supreme authority. This world has been
derived from how latin words ‘super’ and citrus’. Super means supreme and—anus
means authority. There fore sovereignty is defined a supreme authority.
Sovereignty is exclusively the feature of the state. It has aspects, internally
it means that the state has the right to govern its citizens in its own way
there fore the state can make, amend and repeal any law regarding its citizens
externality sovereignty means state has the right to take independent decisions
in external affairs for example-state may sign or reject to sign any
international treat or state may declare was or peace at its own will. In
philosophy also the idea of supreme authority can be seen for example in “advait
Vedanta” ‘Brahman” is the Supreme and absolute authority, Similarly in western
philosophy Spinoza’s nation of substance and Hegel’s notion of absolute idea
reflects the concept of sovereign authority but in these philophics though the
concept of sovereign power exists but it is not treated in terms of society and
TYPOLOGY- Dejure and defacto Dejure sovereignty, means where
sovereignty is vested legally in the body which exercises sovereignty Defacto
sovereignty means where sovereignty power is vested in some other body but a
different body actually exercises the power. In normal circumstances, the
distinction between dejure and defacto sovereign is not seen but during some
contingency like a military coup, this distinction is clearly visible.
Legal —According to legal sovereignty, sovereignty is vested in the law making
body and those individuals who take part in this process.
According to political sovereignty, electorate are sovereign.
According to popular sovereignty, people as a whole are sovereign
Monistic and Pluralistic
According to monostic sovereignty, it is vested only in one body i.e. state.
It is indivisible according to pluralistic sovereignty, it is vested into
various organizations of the society including the state, therefore sovereignty
Views of various thinkers on sovereignty.
Jean Bodin-(six essay concerning Republic 1576) He coined the
term sovereign is first systematic theory of sovereignty. It is a legal and
monistic theory of sovereign Bodin has defined sovereign as supreme power of
state over citizens and subject unrestrained by law. From this definition
certain feature of sovereignty can be seen (i) supreme power According to Bodin
sovereign neither takes commands from his superior nor from his inferior nor
from his equals.(ii) sovereignty is the permanent power, it is always wested in
the sovereign and cannot be transferred to any other authority.
Sovereignty is unrestrained by law this means sovereign is above law and is
not instructed by any law. He himself is the law marker. But for Bodin, law
means municiple law or positive law. Positive laws and Devine law may regulate
After discussing the features of sovereignty, Bodin also points out certain
limitations on sovereignty.
i) Divine law and natural law
ii) Legus Empiri-Legas Empiri means certain fundamental laws of the society.
e.g. Salic law —Inheritance of property to sons only.
iii) Property— sovereign cannot take away the property of individuals
arbitrarily. Its political implication was very important because it provided
the base for the theory that people cannot be taxed without their consent.
iv) Family—According to Bodin, there are two spheres of authority. Imperium and
Dominium. Imperium is the sphere of sovereign but Dominium (family) is the
sphere of the authority of the head of the family.
Question asked on criticisms of Bodin’s theory.
(i) Bodin’s theory of sovereignty is logically inconsistent.
On the one hand be declares that sovereignty is a supreme power but on the other
hand he puts various limitations on the authority of the sovereign there are
certain other contradictions also in Bodin’s theory.
(ii) He gives too much emphasis to nature law and divine law but does not define
what is natural law and what is devine law.
(iii) According to Bodin, sovereign cannot violate natural or devine law. But
who has the authority to decide if be has violated these laws.
(iv) If somehow it is decided that sovereign has violated natural law and divine
law, then who will punish the sovereign therefore logically Bodan’s theory is
not very sound the main reason behind this logical inconsistency lies in the
dichotomy between Bodin’s time and his own Republican beliefs. In the 16th
century Frances many separatist forces like Church like Feudalism were creating
hurdles in the way of unification of France as a nation state to control these
forces and develop France as a nation state, a supreme authority was needed and
responding to demands of his time, Bodin formulated this theory. But in his
personal belief Bodin was a great supporter of individual freedom. Therefore he
puts many limitations on Sovereignty.
i) Bodin was the first philosopher to formulate a theory of sovereignty .
ii) Bodin’s theory of sovereignty was the first attempt in the direction of
constructing a legal and monistic theory of sovereignty. Finally Austin
formulated a logically consistent theory of monistic . Sovereignty, which is
today the most important theory of sovereignty. But the foundation of this
theory was provided by Bodin.
iii) Bodin made the nation of sovereignty, the central concept of political
“Lectures on Jurisprudence” (1832)
Austin’s theory of sovereignty is a legal and monistic theory
of sovereignty. Austin’s theory of sovereignty is an improvement on Bodin’s
theory because Austin lifted all the limitations from sovereign which imposed by
Bodin Therefore his theory is logically consistent. Austin defined sovereignty
as “If a determinate human superior not in the habit of taking obedience from a
like superior, receives habitual obedience from the bulk of a given society
then, that determinate human superior is sovereign and the society including the
sovereign is a society independent and political”
Determinate— has to be clearly located human authority.
Superior —It is absolute
Habitual obedience—obeyed by the bulk of society.
From this very definition Austin makes the following point.
i) Sovereignty is the essential feature of a political and independent
ii) Sovereignty is always vested in human authority.
iii) Sovereignty is determinate.
iv) Obedience to sovereign’s command is habitual
v) “Law is the command of sovereign or what sovereign permits be commands”
According to Austin there are six feature of sovereignty.
1) Absoluteness—Limitless authority of the sovereign
2) Universality -All individuals and organizations within the territory of
sovereign are governed.
3) Permanence—Sovereignty is permanently vested in the state though it is
exercised by different people time to time.
4) Inalienability—Sovereignty cannot be seperated from the statc and transfer to
5) Indivisibility — Sovereignty cannot be divided. Divided sovereignty is a
contradiction sovereignty means supreme authority and therefore if it is divided
among many organization , then the whole nation of supremacy will dilute. In the
words of callron, as we cannot think of a divided circle or divided square
similarly we cannot think of a divided sovereignty.
6) Exclusiveness—This means sovereignty is possessed by only one organization
i.e. the state.
Austin’s theory of Sovereignty is defined in terms of supreme and absolute
power, thn it has to be divisible inalienable, exclusive, universal and
i) According to Henerymaine it is impossible to fight the absolute sovereign
on any society.
ii) If sovereign is made free from all limitations then it may lead to the
emergence of dictatorship.
iii) According to pluralist philosophers like laski, sovereignty is divisible
iv) In Austin’s theory of sovereignty there is overemphasis on power. All his
efforts ultimately lead to the supreme and absolute power of sovereign.
Sovereign is beyond all limitations. Law in the command of sovereign, which
means that individuals have to obey sovereign.
But there are other philosopher’s like Laski and green who
believe that power is not the basis of the state. In the words of Green “will,
not force is the basis of state” According to Green, statc “binders the
hindrances” Son the way to good life therefore we voluntarily obey the state
laski also maintains that the basis of state rests in the “moral adequacy” we
obey the state only when it works for our betterment.
v) In the era of globalisation, the whole notion of sovereignty is suffering
form the crisis of irrelevance .
1) On logical grounds Austin’s theory is the most of
consistent theory of sovereignty most of the criticisms off Austin’s theory are
based on the practical exercise of sovereignty where we see certain limitations
but from the pure logical point of view, there is not contradiction.
2) Monastic theory of sovereignty is today the most important theory of
sovereignty and Austin is the most important philosopher of this theory.
3) In the absence of a supreme and absolute authority, there may be anarchy in
society. If sovereignty is divided around many organizations and some dispute
arises between them, who will adjudicate
4) From the philosophical point of view, dualism and pluralism are ultimately
linked to monism. For example, in western philosophy, Descartes believes in
dualism i.e. the existence of two independent entities mind and body, but
ultimately to explain the relationship between mind and body he has to accept
God and the absolute sub substance. Similarly in Indian Philosophy Sankhya
believes in the existence of two independent realities “Pursa” and Prakriti but
it is unable to explain the relationship between these two realities.
Similarly Leibniz believes in the existence of innumerable
independent entities called monads and all are complete in themselves. But be
also could not explain the relationship between these monads in a logical
framework and so it takes the help of arbitrary principle of “pre-established
harmony” Therefore Austin’s theory may have practical limitations but logically
it is a very sound theory.
Prof Harold Joseph Laski- (Positive Liberal)
1) “A Grammar of Politics”
2) Authority in modern state
Laski’s theory is a refutation of sovereignty. Explain
Laski’s theory of sovereignty is based on pluralism and it is called pluralist
theory of sovereignty. Laski criticized the monistic theory of sovereignty and
declared that sovereignty is not possessed by the state only but it is divided
among the various organization of the society. These organizations have supreme
authority in their respective spheres, therefore sovereignty is divisible
Laski’s theory of sovereignty has two parts
i) Refutation of monistic theory of overeignty.
ii) Support for pluralist sovereignty. Laski rejects monistic theory of
sovereignty on five grounds.
i) Historically the nation of sovereignty was the result of a
particular historic context (16th to 19th century) when there was struggle
between the political order (state) and religious order (church) for supremacy.
Therefore, theory of sovereignty came into existence to support the supremacy of
state. In 20th century this conflict did not exist and state became supreme
therefore nation of sovereignty had become irrelevant.
ii) On legal ground law is not the command of sovereign (in contradiction to
Austin) Law are the result of social customs, tradition public opinion etc.
iii) On political grounds, sovereignty of state is excercised by the government
and there are many limitations on the government. Like public opinion.
iv) Internationally, the theory of monistic sovereignty leads to war and
v) On moral ground, the notion of monistic sovereignty lead to the emergency of
an autocratic regime which will not be suitable for the development of the
personality of individual.
In the words of Laski, “It would be of lasting importance if the whole notion of
sovereignty is surrendered” It is also said that laski has not formulated a
theory of sovereignty but be has formulated a theory of refutation of
Support for Pluralist Sovereignty
i) According to Laski, the structure of society is federal.
This means that society is not a homogeneous unit but it is a mixture of various
interest. Therefore corresponding to these different interests there are many
organisations also perform important functions for the individuals. They are as
real for the individual as the state itself therefore the state cannot be the
monopolizer of authority.
ii) According to Laski, Society is natural but the statc is artificial.
Therefore society is more important than the state society is winder than the
state. State is the political wing of the society, so sovereignty should e veste
in the society.
iii) Laski maintains that authority should correspond to the functions performed
by any organization. Since various organization perform various functions for
the individual therefore they should also be given proportionate authority.
iv) Laski has also supported pluralistic sovereignty on the basis of
decentralization of power Laski has given the idea of self government in
industry which means workers should also be given participation in the process
of decision making.
v) Laki also talks about moral adequacy of the state. Therefore unlike Austin,
Laski believes that state will be obeyed only if it power its adequact moral
1) Laski’s theory of sovereignty like Bodin’s theory is
logically is divisible but if sovereignty means supreme power, there can be only
one sovereign in the society. Therefore sovereignty logically has to be
2) In the absence of a supreme authority, these may be anarchy in the society if
various organization are made supreme in their respective spheres, then dispute
may arise among these organizations and in the absence of one supreme authority
who will adjudicate.
3) The main attempt of Lask’s theory was to protect the liberty of individual
from a strong state but according to critics Laski’s. Theory—Protects the
individual from the grip of state but leaves him at the mercy of the
organization. In other words, state monster is replaced by group monster.
4) According to Marxists sovereignty is always a class power. Therefore whether
it is monistic of pluralistic is insignificant.
i) Laski has successfully highlighted the dangers of monistic sovereignty.
ii) Through logically Laski’s view are insufficient or fallacious but on
practical grounds his views are more convincing than the view of Austin.
iii) Laski’s theory is important from the point of view of world peace.
It is a good theory from the point of view of reaction to previous theories
rather than the construction of theory in itself therefore as a reaction Laski’s
theory is very significant but as a constructive theory it has logical
Both Laski and Austin represent two important viewpoints on
sovereignty. Austin is very sound as far as logical theory of sovereignty is
concerned but in contemporary world history theory has less practical
significance Laski’s theory is logical not very sound but in practical sense
today it is more relevant than Austin’s theory.