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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
13. Beyond ideology?
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.
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.
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.
7. Citizenship Theory
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.
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.
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.
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.
3. Crime and punishment
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.
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.
5. The Distribution of Property
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.
5. The Distribution of Property
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.
26. The Early Marx
This chapter examines Karl Marx's work prior to 1846, with particular emphasis on his concept of alienation. Although Marx borrows heavily from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and from Ludwig Feuerbach, his background in the philosophy and culture of ancient Greece is an important factor in his early essentialism. The early Marx rejects Hegel's theory that the state represents an ethical community. For Marx, communism is the movement of the exploited workers struggling to free themselves, and, in the process, liberate the whole of humanity so that they can freely develop their human essence of social creativity. After providing a short biography of Marx, this chapter considers his arguments about human essence and its alienation as well as his critique of the modern state. It concludes with an analysis of Marx's communist alternative.
14. The Environment
This concluding chapter addresses the normative issues raised by the environment. The environment includes the earth's crust, soil, and natural resources; the atmosphere; all the earth's water; and the biosphere. Human activity has a profound impact on the environment. Indeed, many of the activities that humans engage in — activities which often serve important human interests and goals — result in environmental degradation. Persons depend on the environment in many ways: for their food, health, and for many of their goals in life. As such, humans face a problem when people impact on the environment to such an extent that it undercuts people's capacity to enjoy the standard of living to which they are entitled. Thus, a just account of the environment will take into account both the fact that people have legitimate interests which involve using the environment and the fact that there must be limits on people's environmental impacts.
This chapter examines the extent to which environmentalism has emerged as a viable ideology in its own right. It begins by charting the origins of the rise of the environment as an issue in relation to global and national political systems as well as the point at which it might be possible to identify the emergence of a distinct Green agenda. It then analyses the range of environmental thinking and the embedded critique, ideal, and programme that defines Green ideology, with particular emphasis on classical liberalism and neo-liberalism, Green conservatism, eco-socialism, social ecology, and eco-feminism. It also explores the impact that Green policies have had in shaping the policy agenda and concludes by looking at the main challenges that face the consolidation of Green thinking and action. To illustrate these various issues, the chapter presents case studies, one of which relates to global climate change.
6. Equality and social justice
This chapter addresses equality and social justice. In the 1980s and 1990s, the goal of social justice was challenged both on political and philosophical grounds and was largely supplanted by an emphasis on economic growth and individual responsibility. Although still given little emphasis in the United States, considerations of social justice came back onto the political agenda in the United Kingdom following the election of the new Labour government in 1997. To rehabilitate social justice, it was necessary to decouple it from traditional socialist ideas of common ownership of the means of production. Key debates on social justice concern theories of equality, priority, and sufficiency, and how inequality should be defined and measured. Of particular concern has been the place of personal responsibility for disadvantages causing inequalities. The chapter then considers equality of opportunity and social relations.