Federalist and Anti-Federalist: Two Divergent Concepts of Politics
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This article provides a theoretical framework to help us understand the controversies between the federalist and anti-federalists in the early history of the United States of America during the Federal Convention in 1787 as a conflict of two political philosophical traditions. The sources of these opposed traditions may be traced back to the disputes in ancient Greek philosophy, in thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle who defined politics in different ways. Plato grounds his definition of politics in epistêmê, which means that society should be ruled by the wisest. The federalist argued the best form of government is one where the people could avoid decision-making and leave the wisest representatives to handle politics. In opposition to this, Aristotle believes that politics should be inspired by the notion of phrônesis, which means that decisions should be considered collectively. Similarly, the anti-federalist believed that the government tends to be corrupted, and citizens should be suspicious of the government. They believed the ideal way to govern society is to have everyone involved in decision-making.
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