Full Text


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics, political philosophy the claim that society should train a group of pre-eminent individuals for positions of political leadership. The view was first elaborated by Plato in his Republic . He held that political power should be given to philosopherkings , who would be the wisest and most intelligent members of society. An elite of the best people would make laws and determine policy, but an elitist program faces many difficulties. First, unless there were indeed a special wisdom of political leadership, choosing an elite would be arbitrary. Secondly, if there were such wisdom, it would be necessary to identify those possessing it to receive a suitable education. Thirdly, there would be problems in installing these experts in ruling positions and in protecting their rule against those who see it as illegitimate. Finally, a procedure would be needed for the regular and peaceful replacement of members of the elite. Elitism seems incompatible with democratic liberalism , which promotes equality liberty and proposes that leadership should be elected from the general citizenry, but many liberal systems have chosen their political leadership from a privileged social and economic elite that has been educated for leadership. β€œTo advance an elitist hypothesis today it is not enough merely to argue … that an elite always or usually exist and that they are probably of decisive ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top