The functions of politics

The questions: "What are the functions of law?" "What is morality's function?" are familiar problems in legal and moral philosophy. But political philosophy has not pressed the corresponding question about politics. This paper accordingly asks: What are politics' main functions? In answer, the paper argues for the Dual-Function Thesis: politics has two main functions: first, to allow groups and their members to make a significant mark on the world and society, a mark more significant than the members individually or severally could make; second, to make the general arrangements of a group's affairs responsive to the wants and fears of at least some of the group's current members. This means, as the paper will show, that politics solves two deep human problems: the Significant Mark Problem and the Responsiveness Problem. The paper starts with an analysis of the concept of politics, refutes six alternative conception of politics' main function, shows that the Dual-Function Thesis implies that politics solves the two problems, mounts a direct argument for the Thesis, and refutes the objection that politics has no main function.
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