Burke's Distinction and Public Representation

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Edmund Burke is responsible for the creation of a philosophical framework of thought that can be put to use in the analysis of economic and political systems anywhere in the world. What has been called Burke's Distinction refers to a method of separating two closely related components of society and analysing their relationship to one another in terms of interest and opinion.


Although public opinion is downplayed in this relationship, it certainly has its place in terms of public representation simply because the electorate must feel placated. The primary role of a public representative is, however, to understand the difference between opinion and interest, and to legislate with the best interests of the people in mind. Public representatives must work to find a balance between the focus of opinion and interest.
Edmund Burke described the mentality of human society as being based on two basic principles: the people's interests and the people's opinions. These have been the foundation of Burke's Distinction, a theoretical framework of behaviour that has been used to study economics and politics as they pertain to public will and necessity. Burke's Distinction refers to the distinct forces of both interest and opinion, and describes how these forces relate to one another in terms of human character and motivation (Gargarella, 2001, 13).
Burke's reference to people's interests is his idea that political or economic change will come as a result of successful government that understands the basic difference between whim and necessity. ...
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