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Chapter

William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter argues that affirmative action is sometimes justifiable. ‘Affirmative action’ refers to policies beyond anti-discrimination law that directly regulate selection procedures to enhance the representation of members of various socially salient groups, such as those based on gender, race, and ethnicity. The chapter outlines an argument in support of affirmative action by distinguishing three prominent forms of wrongful discrimination and by showing that affirmative action is the appropriate response to the past and present wrongful discrimination suffered by members of socially salient groups. It also adds a second argument for affirmative action that appeals to the importance of enhancing diversity and social integration. The chapter then tackles several objections and reflects on the implications of these arguments for the design of affirmative action policies.

Chapter

David Bates

This chapter examines the key ideas and concepts of ‘classical’ anarchist thinkers. Among the ideas associated with anarchism are: a belief in the potential of human nature, and a corresponding critique of arbitrary authority; a refusal of state authority; a rejection of the institution of private property; militant atheism; and an emphasis on the importance of revolutionary politics. The chapter first considers how anarchist views on human nature, the state, political action, private property, and religion vary, and where possible, what unites them. It then discusses recent critical responses to anarchism, particularly ‘post-anarchism’, and specific historical examples of anarchism. It also analyses the extent to which anarchism can be regarded as a cohesive political ideology.

Chapter

Joseph Canning

This chapter examines St Thomas Aquinas' political ideas. Aquinas combined Aristotelian ideas with Christian concepts, distinguishing between the natural and supernatural orders, and attributing inherent validity to the natural order, including political life. His theory of law linked, through reason, the eternal law of God, natural law, human positive law, and divine law. According to Aquinas, government's justification was its purpose — securing the common good. He favoured limited monarchy in a mixed constitution. The chapter first provides a short biography of Aquinas before discussing his views on natural and supernatural orders, government, tyranny, and temporal and spiritual power. It concludes with an assessment of Aquinas' contribution to political thought in the area of just war theory.

Chapter

Justine Lacroix

This chapter examines a number of key concepts in Hannah Arendt's work, with particular emphasis on how they have influenced contemporary thought about the meaning of human rights. It begins with a discussion of Arendt's claim that totalitarianism amounts to a destruction of the political domain and a denial of the human condition itself; this in turn had occurred only because human rights had lost all validity. It then considers Arendt's formula of the ‘right to have rights’ and how it opens the way to a ‘political’ conception of human rights founded on the defence of republican institutions and public-spiritedness. It shows that this ‘political’ interpretation of human rights is itself based on an underlying understanding of the human condition as marked by natality, liberty, plurality and action, The chapter concludes by reflecting on the so-called ‘right to humanity’.

Chapter

Tony Burns

This chapter examines the argument of Aristotle's Politics in relation to the theory of justice that he articulates in his Nicomachean Ethics. It first provides a biography of Aristotle before discussing his view of human nature, the starting point for understanding his views on both ethics and politics. In particular, it considers what Aristotle means when he describes man as a ‘social and political animal’ (zoon politikon). It goes on to explore the theory of justice developed in Aristotle's Ethics, focusing on the notions of proportional and arithmetical equality. It also analyses the two areas of social life in which the concept of justice has a practical application: the spheres of rectificatory and distributive justice. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the continuing relevance of Aristotle for political philosophy today, especially for the debate between John Rawls and his communitarian critics.

Chapter

William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter defends basic income. This policy requires the state to make regular cash payments to each member of society, irrespective of their other income or wealth, or willingness to find employment. It starts by describing three effects of basic income. The first is that it will raise the incomes of the least advantaged. The second is that it will protect against the threats of exploitation and abuse. The third is that it will remove one obstacle to finding employment. The chapter then explains the significance of these effects by drawing on ideas about distributive justice, emphasizing the relevance of John Rawls’s justice as fairness and Elizabeth Anderson’s democratic equality. It also considers the claim that basic income should be rejected because it would require the state to interfere with the lives of those who would be taxed to fund it, arguing that it is a mistake to oppose taxation in such a wholesale way. The chapter concludes with a reflection on the economic sustainability of basic income.

Chapter

Paul Kelly

This chapter examines Jeremy Bentham's political thought. Bentham is both an advocate of laissez-faire and an interventionist, a liberal rationalist and an equivocally liberal thinker prepared to sacrifice the rights of individuals to the well-being of the multitude. His ideas remain contested from all quarters, yet the outline of his actual political thought remains obscure. This chapter defends an interpretation of Bentham as an important liberal thinker with a commitment to the role of government in defending personal security and well-being, but also with a strong scepticism about government as a vehicle for harm as well as good. It first provides a short biography of Bentham before discussing his psychological theory as well as his account of value and duty. It also explores Bentham's views on psychological hedonism, obligations and rules, sovereignty and law, and representative democracy. It concludes with an assessment of Bentham's complex relationship with liberalism.

Chapter

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines conceptions of human nature and ideological responses to globalization. It begins with a discussion of the two reasons for the persistence of ideological dispute regarding human nature. First, ideologies differ in their views of human nature, and these differences continue to generate competing visions of the good society consistent with this nature. Second, disagreement about the good society might be built into human nature. The chapter considers the different ideological conceptions of human nature and the implications of globalization for existing political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and religious fundamentalism. It also explores a range of arguments that suggest the possibility of resolving or ending ideological debate, asking whether it is possible to show the failure of a particular ideology, whether there can be a non-ideological way of doing politics, or whether there could there be an end of ideology.

Chapter

David Boucher

This chapter examines Edmund Burke's political thought. It first provides a short biography of Burke before discussing the three main interpretations of him: first, as a utilitarian; second, in relation to natural law; and the third, which attempts to bring together the two antithetical interpretations. It argues that even though Burke has elements of utilitarianism in his thought, and although he subscribes to natural law and universal principles, both somehow have to coincide in the traditions and institutional practices of a community. On the question of political obligation, although he uses the language of contract, it is clear that Burke does not subscribe to its central tenets. The chapter proceeds by exploring Burke's views on sovereignty, constitutionalism, colonialism, and slavery.

Chapter

Cary J. Nederman

This chapter examines Cicero's social and political theory, which rests upon his conception of human nature, namely that human beings are capable of speech and reason. It first provides a short biography of Cicero before discussing his discursive approach to republican rule based on the claim that human nature can only be fully realized through articulate and wise speech. For Cicero, social order requires wise leaders who direct citizens toward the proper goals of cooperation and mutual advantage and who thus seek peace rather than war. The chapter proceeds by analysing Cicero's argument that political institutions must be built upon natural law and virtue, especially justice, along with his notion of patriotic citizenship and his views on war and peace; statesmanship, courage, and otium; the origins of political inequality; and republican government.

Chapter

This chapter examines theories of citizenship as an important supplement to, rather than a replacement for, theories of justice. It first considers what sorts of virtues and practices are said to be required by democratic citizenship, focusing on two different forms of civic republicanism: a classical view which emphasizes the intrinsic value of political participation, and a liberal view which emphasizes its instrumental importance. The chapter then explains how liberal states can try to promote the appropriate forms of citizenship virtues and practices. It also discusses the seedbeds of civic virtue, taking into account a variety of aspects of liberal society that can be seen as inculcating civic virtues, including the market, civic associations, and the family. It concludes with an analysis of the politics of civic republicanism.

Chapter

This chapter examines communitarianism and its central assumptions. It first considers two strands of communitarian thought: one camp argues that community should be seen as the source of principles of justice, whereas the other camp insists that community should play a greater role in the content of principles of justice. The chapter then explores the communitarian claim that the liberal ‘politics of rights’ should be abandoned for, or at least supplemented by, a ‘politics of the common good’. It also analyses the communitarian conception of the embedded self; two liberal accommodations of communitarianism, the so-called political liberalism and liberal nationalism; the communitarians’ ‘social thesis’, focusing on Charles Taylor’s belief that liberal neutrality cannot sustain the social conditions for the exercise of autonomy; and the connection between nationalism and cosmopolitanism. The chapter concludes with an overview of the politics of communitarianism.

Chapter

Mark Garnett

This chapter examines the basic features of conservative ideology, with particular emphasis on its strongly contested nature. It begins with a discussion of two major issues: whether conservatism is distinctive ideology and whether the core ideas of conservatism have changed over time. It then shows how conservatism differs from varieties of liberalism and goes on to explore ‘conservatism’ in the United States, along with some apparent manifestations of conservatism in political parties and movements outside the United Kingdom. Finally, it looks at the relationship between conservatism and religion. Case studies on the ideas of Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill, Barry Goldwater, and Friedrich von Hayek are presented.

Book

Contemporary Political Philosophy has been revised to include many of the most significant developments in Anglo-American political philosophy in the last eleven years, particularly the new debates on political liberalism, deliberative democracy, civic republicanism, nationalism, and cultural pluralism. The text now includes two new chapters on citizenship theory and multiculturalism, in addition to updated chapters on utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, socialism, communitarianism, and feminism. The many thinkers discussed include G. A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, William Galston, Carol Gilligan, R. M. Hare, Catherine Mackinnon, David Miller, Philippe Van Parijs, Susan Okin, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, John Roemer, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer, and Iris Young.

Chapter

Massimo Renzo

This chapter focuses on crime and punishment. Punishment involves the imposition of hardship or suffering on a supposed offender for a supposed crime, by a person or body who claims the authority to do so. Criminal punishment is problematic in at least three respects: it harms those who are punished; it also harms, indirectly, their families and friends; and it imposes significant costs on the rest of the political community. There are two strategies for the justification of punishment: instrumental and non-instrumental justifications. The instrumental strategy has been traditionally pursued by endorsing some version of consequentialism, the moral theory according to which the rightness or wrongness of a given conduct, practice, or rule depends only on its consequences. Non-instrumental justifications, on the other hand, have been traditionally defended by retributivist theories, according to which, wrongdoers deserve to suffer in proportion to the gravity of the wrong they have committed.

Chapter

Massimo Renzo

This chapter explores some of the most important arguments that have been advanced in the philosophical debate over crime and punishment. More specifically, it examines the question of what justifies the alleged right of states to punish their citizens. Without a convincing answer to this question, the radical conclusion that the criminal justice system should be abolished deserves a consideration. The chapter first explains what we mean by ‘punishment’ before discussing a range of approaches to the justification of punishment, including consequentialism, retribution, and mixed approaches. A case study on international crimes is presented, along with Key Thinkers boxes featuring Joel Feinberg and R. A. Duff.

Chapter

Thomas Christiano

This chapter looks at democracy. The term ‘democracy’ refers very generally to a method of group decision making that is characterized by a kind of equality among the participants at an essential stage. To evaluate the arguments of democratic theorists, we must decide on the merits of the different principles, and conceptions, of humanity and society from which they proceed. We can evaluate democracy along at least two different dimensions: instrumentally, by reference to the outcomes of using it compared with other methods of political decision making; or intrinsically, by reference to qualities that are inherent in the method — for example, whether there is something inherently fair about making democratic decisions about matters on which people disagree. A vexing problem of democracy is whether ordinary citizens are up to the task of governing a large society. The chapter then offers some solutions for the problem of democratic citizenship.

Chapter

Thomas Christiano

This chapter examines various conceptions of the normative grounds of democracy. After some preliminaries, it discusses considerations that favour and disfavour democracy from the perspective of instrumentalism. It then reviews some arguments for the intrinsic value of democracy and goes on to analyse one of the most fundamental challenges that a theory of democracy must face: the problem of citizenship. It also explains some of the institutional prerequisites of democratic institutions if they are to meet the challenge of citizenship. Finally, it presents a case study on deliberative polling as a way of realizing democratic ideals, along with Key Thinkers boxes featuring Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Joseph Schumpeter, Robert Dahl, James Buchanan, and Gordon Tullock.

Chapter

William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter examines whether affluent states should commit significant funds to alleviate poverty abroad. It argues not only that they should, but also that their duties to those who live in poverty go far beyond this. This argument in favour of development aid is based on the idea that an individual has a duty to prevent something very bad from happening when they can do so at little cost to themselves. The chapter then highlights that the global order plays a significant role in the persistence of global poverty, and this further supports the case for development aid. It also considers the claim that states should prioritize meeting the claims of their own members ahead of the claims of those who live abroad. The chapter shows that, even if this is true, it does not undermine the case for committing significant funds to alleviate global poverty.

Chapter

This chapter examines the concept of distributive justice, asking in particular whether citizens should have the liberty to acquire and dispose of property however they see fit, or whether there are justified restrictions on economic activity in the name of liberty or justice. It begins with a discussion of the problem of distributive justice, taking into account a variety of differing opinions on how a liberal society should distribute property, along with the so-called income parade. It then considers property and markets, focusing on John Locke's ideas, and the free market principle. It also explores John Rawls's theory of justice and some of the criticisms levelled against him, including those by Robert Nozick.