International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

work on charismatic authority. This is somewhat ironic, for Friedrich ( 1961) was extremely critical of his German counterpart's writings on authority.

Friedrich asserted that Weber's notion of charismatic authority was "unsound and should be discarded" for at least two reasons (see his 1961 article "Political Leadership and the Problem of the Charismatic Power"). First, Friedrich contended that Weber misplaced or inappropriately used the term "charisma" in his discussion of authority within the political sphere. The term "charisma," as originally used in the New Testament (Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians, 12), refers to "gift." Friedrich asserted that, although a numbers of gifts are listed, "the 'gift' of government or political leadership in not among them" ( 1961, p. 13). Second, Friedrich argued that Weber's authority typology (traditional, legal-rational, and charismatic), confuses authority with power and legitimacy.

Although Friedrich discussed the nature and use of authority in several works, he devoted considerable attention to the topic in two books. The first is an edited volume, Authority: Nomos I ( 1958), the inaugural annual publication of the American Society for Political and Legal philosophy. In addition to serving as editor, Friedrich contributed a chapter entitled "Authority, Reason, and Discretion".

His central thesis was that scholars who attempt to build a concept of authority solely on power have totally missed the mark. Why? Because authority based on power alone is weak and unlikely to endure over time. Friedrich strongly believed that authority must be grounded in reason and that any attempt to divorce the two concepts is profoundly misguided. Reminiscent of Chester Barnard ( 1938), Friedrich asserted that authority is contingent upon the capacity to issue communications or commands that have the "potentiality of reasoned elaboration" ( 1958, p. 35). If the potentiality of reasoned elaboration is present, then, the authoritative communications or commands are likely to be accepted. He believed that acceptance of a communication or command by the individual to whom it was directed is an indication that the person who gave the command possessed authority.

Friedrich further explored the notion of authority in Tradition and Authority ( 1972), one of three books published after his retirement from Harvard. This work reflects the culmination of Friedrich's lifelong thinking on the subject. As he had done earlier, Friedrich ( 1972) emphasized the essential link between reason and authority.

The ancient connotation brings out the crucial role of reasoning in situations where men follow other men without being compelled to do so. When there are good reasons for doing or believing something, such actions or thought acquires quality that is otherwise lacking: it becomes "authoritative." What makes a particular course of action authoritative, that is to say, vested with authority, is that convincing reasons may be offered in support of it (p. 48).

Friedrich continued:

What we must ask is what enables a man to get his proposal accepted, that is to say, to gain another's assent. Our reply would be that when such ability to gain assent springs from his capacity for reasoned elaboration we have authority. It inheres in his communication! Only when what is commanded is asserted [and] can be reasoned upon and defined is real authority. . . . He who obeys authority does so because he who ordered him to obey appears to have a very sufficient reason to do so (p. 55).

In Tradition and Authority, Friedrich's concept of authority is more fully developed because he examined the role that tradition has in sustaining authority. He built a persuasive argument that "tradition" -- the values, beliefs, habits, and customs of the political community -- provides the basis for reasoned elaboration. Friedrich argued that "reasoning upon values [tradition]" is "in many ways the most important kind of reasoning there is" ( 1972, p. 115). According to Friedrich, such reasoning "demands authority" (p. 115). He criticized those who attacked tradition. Friedrich considered tradition "a fragile thing," for it is "quickly destroyed and hard to rebuild" (p. 114). He argued that attacks on tradition are, in a fundamental way, an assault on the political authority of the regime.


Conclusion

The British philosopher Anthony Savile ( 1982) noted that works of art pass time's test because of "survival of attention." That is, they hold our attention due to their high quality, excellence, and merit. Savile ( 1982) wrote that "great art is bound to be influential: such art leaves its mark on what follows" (p. 210). Savile's remarks are certainly relevant when applied to the works of Carl J. Friedrich. Friedrich left an indelible mark on the fields of American public administration and political science. His many works have withstood the test of time.

LARRY D. TERRY AND SHELLY PEFFER


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barnard, Chester, 1938. The Functions of the Executive. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Cochran, Clarke, 1977. "Authority and Community: The Contributions of Carl J. Friedrich, Yves R. Simon, and Michael Polanyi". American Political Science Review, vol. 71: 546-558.

DeGeorge, Richard, 1985. The Nature and Limits of Authority. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Finer, Herman, 1941. "Administrative Responsibility in Democratic Government". Public Administrative Review, vol. 19: 277-289.

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