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  • A system wherein people or things are ranked according to a particular or series of factors. The Catholic Church, for example, is highly hierarchical in nature, with the rank of Pope at the top and priest at the bottom. The military is similarly structured, as each soldier must follow the commands of the officer directly above him or her. Social philosophers have long incorporated hierarchical notions into their ideas. Whereas Aristotle famously proclaimed humankind to be divided into a natural hierarchy (with men at its height and slaves at its base), thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham and William James sought to rank different human desires by their supposed importance. Feminist or postmodernist thinkers have also identified hierarchies, although from a considerably more negative perspective. Such ...

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