Human nature and political conventions

That there is some connection between politics and human nature is a commonplace, but why and in what way they are conjoined is disputed. Aristotle's practice of comparing humans with other animals, and not conceptually divorcing them, is fruitful. By adopting a similar practice an indirect linkage (rather than Aristotle's direct one) between human nature and politics is identified. The strategy is to locate at least one universal aspect of human nature which is non?political that, nonetheless, carries with it a requirement that universally calls forth a political response. The aspect is reproductive sex and the need to ensure that offspring survive. In humans, the natural fact of paternal uncertainty is dealt with by conventions, but, because of this, these vary (for example, as between matrilineal and patrilineal kinship systems). But what is necessitated amid this variety is a need to establish an authoritative allocation of responsibility for nurture. Politics is the exercise of that authority. However, because of its roots in conventions called forth by human nature, the link is indirect. The conclusion is that contemporary attempts to re?establish a direct link are bound to be inconclusive
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DOI 10.1080/13698239908403277
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Daniel C. Dennett (1996). Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Behavior and Philosophy 24 (2):169-174.

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