Decree By Incentives : Government Philosophies Of Ancient China

1520 Words Sep 15th, 2014 7 Pages
Decree By Incentive: Government Philosophies of Ancient China Throughout China’s expansive history, the nation has used a variety of foundations to justify their positions on political power. Though the claims change throughout the years, they tend to fall into one of two classifications: either the philosophy has a sacred, often religious basis, or it has a secular justification. Some methods of governance focus on severe punishments for breaking laws, and others expect a government to lead through virtuous example. These secular policies rely on a commoner’s character or aversion to penalties to ensure proper behavior within a society. They do not take into account for the opportunity costs a person might lose when following a law, however, and offer no incentive to persuade them otherwise. Once a society introduces a figure that accounts for praise in charismatic decisions, and punishments in actions of avarice, it gives people a reason to follow a society 's regulations. In China, this type of governmental philosophy is best represented by the Mandate of Heaven, which offered an ample incentive for its people to follow the laws of society, and explained to its followers why their politicians had the right to govern them, as opposed to legalism and Confucianism, which gave no motivation to the people to follow government regulations. Legalism, in its purest form, represents the emphasis on order within a society, as opposed to the concerns of its followers. The Chinese…

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