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Cover Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory
Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory draws upon critical scholarship to bring together diverse ways of thinking about and critiquing key thinkers from the canon of political theory. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular thinker and their work, and encourages students to explore the limitations of the canon and ask important questions about whose views might be marginalized, ignored, or sidelined in the construction of ‘canonical’ thought. Pedagogical features include author tutorial videos and end-of-chapter questions to prompt students to develop their own voice and challenge dominant ideas.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

4. Kautilya  

Deepshikha Shahi

This chapter presents the seminal work of chief counsellor Kautilya, Arthaśāstra. Arthaśāstra has been unanimously accepted not only as one of the most precious works of Sanskrit literature, but also as an ancient Indian compendium of principles and policies related to political science. The chapter begins by unfolding the ‘philosophical foundation’ of Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra. A systematic study of this foundation clarifies the moral footing of Kautilya’s political theory. The chapter then unpacks the structural and functional outlook of Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra, demonstrating how Kautilya’s political theory is eclectic. It fuses the allegedly conflicting rational/prudential and abstract/ideal concerns in politics, thereby outdoing the prescriptions of Eurocentric realpolitik. Finally, the chapter inspects the position of gender and caste in Kautilya’s political theory. In so doing, it probes the gaps between Kautilya’s theoretical plan and its practical performance.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

22. Iris Marion Young  

Neus Torbisco-Casals

This chapter explores American philosopher Iris Marion Young’s central contributions to contemporary political theory. Young remains well known as a leading socialist, feminist political theorist, whose ground-breaking work on oppression, equality, and democratic theory has had an enduring impact, despite her premature death. After introducing Young’s multifaceted engagements with issues of justice and equality against the backdrop of her personal and political contexts, the chapter examines her influential account of oppression. This analysis is essential to understanding Young’s conception of equality as inclusion. The chapter then analyses her critique of the universal model of citizenship as delineated in her celebrated 1990 book Justice and the Politics of Difference.

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11. Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu  

Manjeet Ramgotra

This chapter examines the political theory and writings of French Enlightenment thinker, Montesquieu. It contends that Montesquieu’s constitutional theory of the separation of powers promoted a strong government which advanced individual freedom, maintained internal stability against absolutism and populism, and allowed the state to expand its boundaries at a moment in history when European powers were fighting each other to establish colonial empires across the world. The chapter presents the contexts in which he composed The Spirit of the Laws (1748), and then discusses Montesquieu’s typology of governments and considers the various notions of time and progress that undergird his view of how the various constitutions in the world are ordered. Finally, the chapter looks at commerce, peace, colonialism, and slavery, bringing to light the tensions and contradictions in Montesquieu’s thought.

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Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

32. John Rawls  

Maeve Mckeown

This chapter examines the significance of A Theory of Justice (1971) written by John Rawls in contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy. It examines the basic contours of Rawls’ theory and addresses the Rawlsian self in what he calls ‘the original position’. Feminists and critical race theorists disagree over the potential of self that Rawls proposed to generate a non-sexist, anti-racist society, and philosophers of disability highlight its ableist assumptions. The chapter looks at the idea of a Rawlsian society being governed by a ‘just basic structure’. It highlights three issues: (1) the ambiguity of the concept of a basic structure separate from individual behaviour and other institutions; (2) the concern that focusing on the basic structure fails to address power relations between groups; and (3) that it limits the scope of justice to the nation state. While acknowledging the profound contributions of Rawls, the chapter concludes that Rawlsian ideal theory is not the best approach from the perspective of feminist, anti-racist, and anti-ableist philosophy.

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Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

26. Emma Goldman  

Ruth Kinna

This chapter examines resistance in Emma Goldman’s anarchism. It starts with an discussion of her reputation, especially with respect to her detachment from conventional political theory and her failure to investigate race as a category of oppression. The chapter contends that Goldman’s structure of resistance involves love with open eyes and the spirit of revolt. It then considers her understanding of political theory as a practice informed by experience, which she then deploys to develop her conceptions of power and emancipation, in particular her understanding of the relation between class power and women’s oppression. The chapter discusses slavery and slavishness to show how Goldman used rights to advocate resistance to domination. The chapter further explores how her acceptance of revolt highlighted the futility of struggles for inclusion.

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12. John Stuart Mill  

Inder S. Marwah

This chapter assesses John Stuart Mill’s political philosophy, focusing on two particular features of his thought. First is Mill’s relation to the liberal political tradition. Second are his writings on race, gender, and empire, which have in recent years come into greater prominence. The chapter begins by highlighting Mill’s contributions to liberal political theory and utilitarian ethics, the two traditions of thought with which he’s most commonly associated. It then examines his views on government and democracy. The chapter also considers Mill’s views on human diversity and difference, showing how his treatments of race, empire, and gender intersect with his liberalism. Finally, it reflects on what we might think about his political philosophy in light of his imperialist entanglements.

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8. Mary Astell  

Allauren Forbes

This chapter investigates how English philosopher, feminist, and political theorist Mary Astell offered a thoroughgoing and sustained critique of social contract theory in Some Reflections Upon Marriage (1700) and A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (1694). Like many other philosophers and political theorists marginalized on the basis of their identities, Astell was keenly attuned to the views, institutions, and systems of power that were used to perpetuate oppression. The chapter then looks at Astell’s criticisms of central features of social contract theory, particularly in the context of the socio-political institution of marriage as an analogue for the social contract. It assesses whether the analogue holds or whether it was simply a rhetorical device and what this means for how Astell understands marriage. Finally, the chapter suggests that Astell’s critique of social contract theory, especially its application to marriage, was an attempt to reshape the socio-political terrain of her time.

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Cover Issues in Political Theory

Introduction  

Robert Jubb, Catriona McKinnon, and Patrick Tomlin

This introductory chapter provides an overview of political theory. Political theory is the study of whether and what political institutions, practices, and forms of organization can be justified, how they ought to be arranged, and the decisions they ought to make. This is normative political theory. Normative theories are action-guiding, and so are theories about what we ought to do. There are two important things to remember when making claims in political theory. One is that moral and political values are relative to specific cultures in specific times and places, and so there is no universal truth about such matters. The second is that such values are radically subjective: individuals set their own moral compass and can choose how to live as they please. We should be clear about which of these positions we are invoking if we are sceptical of universal normative claims.

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Cover Issues in Political Theory

1. Political obligation  

Keith Hyams

This chapter discusses the justifications for political obligation. The most important historical justification for political obligation is what is often called consent theory or contract theory. Consent theorists claim that we should obey the law because we have consented to do so. Meanwhile, the theorist H. L. A. Hart argues that if we accept a benefit, then it is only fair that we should reciprocate and give something back; if we enjoy the protection of police and armies, if we use roads, hospitals, schools, and other government-run services, then we should reciprocate by obeying the law. Other theorists argue that political obligation is something that we are bound by simply for being a member of a political community. If we cannot justify an obligation to obey the law, then we may have to adopt some form of philosophical anarchism — the view that we have no obligation to obey the law.

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Cover Issues in Political Theory

5. Power  

David Owen

This chapter assesses power, a basic concept of political theory. In its most fundamental sense, power is a dispositional concept that refers to the capacity to affect some feature of the world and the capacity to produce effects with respect to those feature of the world. The concept of power is closely bound in social and political contexts to the concepts of freedom and responsibility. There are different modes of power: power to, power with, power over, and power of. The power of an agent typically depends on the context of power in which they are situated and on the relations in which they stand to other agents within broader social structures. Moreover, exercises of power are always mediated — and, indeed, we often distinguishes forms of social and political power in terms of prominent general media through which they are exercised. The chapter then considers the three-dimensional view of power.

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Cover Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory

1. Introduction  

Gemma Bird

Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory draws upon critical scholarship to bring together diverse ways of thinking about and critiquing key thinkers from the canon of political theory. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular thinker and their work, and encourages students to explore the limitations of the canon and ask important questions about whose views might be marginalized, ignored, or sidelined in the construction of ‘canonical’ thought. Pedagogical features include author tutorial videos and end-of-chapter questions to prompt students to develop their own voice and challenge dominant ideas.

Chapter

Cover Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory

2. Niccolò Machiavelli  

Christine Unrau

Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory draws upon critical scholarship to bring together diverse ways of thinking about and critiquing key thinkers from the canon of political theory. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular thinker and their work, and encourages students to explore the limitations of the canon and ask important questions about whose views might be marginalized, ignored, or sidelined in the construction of ‘canonical’ thought. Pedagogical features include author tutorial videos and end-of-chapter questions to prompt students to develop their own voice and challenge dominant ideas.

Chapter

Cover Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory

5. Karl Marx  

Sergio Bedoya Cortés

Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory draws upon critical scholarship to bring together diverse ways of thinking about and critiquing key thinkers from the canon of political theory. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular thinker and their work, and encourages students to explore the limitations of the canon and ask important questions about whose views might be marginalized, ignored, or sidelined in the construction of ‘canonical’ thought. Pedagogical features include author tutorial videos and end-of-chapter questions to prompt students to develop their own voice and challenge dominant ideas.

Chapter

Cover Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory

6. Hannah Arendt  

Sadiya Akram

Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory draws upon critical scholarship to bring together diverse ways of thinking about and critiquing key thinkers from the canon of political theory. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular thinker and their work, and encourages students to explore the limitations of the canon and ask important questions about whose views might be marginalized, ignored, or sidelined in the construction of ‘canonical’ thought. Pedagogical features include author tutorial videos and end-of-chapter questions to prompt students to develop their own voice and challenge dominant ideas.

Chapter

Cover Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory

3. Jean-Jacques Rousseau  

Jimmy Casas Klausen

Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory draws upon critical scholarship to bring together diverse ways of thinking about and critiquing key thinkers from the canon of political theory. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular thinker and their work, and encourages students to explore the limitations of the canon and ask important questions about whose views might be marginalized, ignored, or sidelined in the construction of ‘canonical’ thought. Pedagogical features include author tutorial videos and end-of-chapter questions to prompt students to develop their own voice and challenge dominant ideas.

Chapter

Cover Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory

4. Mary Wollstonecraft  

Emma Spruce

Critiquing the Canon: Political Theory draws upon critical scholarship to bring together diverse ways of thinking about and critiquing key thinkers from the canon of political theory. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular thinker and their work, and encourages students to explore the limitations of the canon and ask important questions about whose views might be marginalized, ignored, or sidelined in the construction of ‘canonical’ thought. Pedagogical features include author tutorial videos and end-of-chapter questions to prompt students to develop their own voice and challenge dominant ideas.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

1. Introduction  

This edition provides an introduction to the major schools of thought that dominate contemporary debates in political philosophy. The focus is on theories which have attracted a certain allegiance, and which offer a more or less comprehensive vision of the ideals of politics. The text examines the notion, advanced by Ronald Dworkin, that every plausible political theory has the same ultimate value, which is equality. It considers another, more abstract and more fundamental, idea of equality in political theory — namely, the idea of treating people ‘as equals’. It also explores what it might mean for libertarianism to have freedom as its foundational value, or for utilitarianism to have utility as its foundational value. Finally, it analyses the relationship between moral and political philosophy and argues that the ultimate test of a theory of justice is that it should be concordant with, and help illuminate, our convictions of justice.

Book

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy
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.

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Cover Issues in Political Theory

7. Toleration  

Anna Elisabetta Galeotti

This chapter explores toleration, which enables the peaceful coexistence of conflicting views and ways of life within the same society. It originally emerged as the political solution to the religious wars that devastated Europe after the Reformation. Toleration as the suspension of political interference in the religious creeds of people was affirmed as the only way to stop the killings for the sake of eternal salvation. At its origin, toleration was patterned on a model of civil coexistence that implied a divide between political affairs and private matters. The contemporary debate on toleration consists of three approaches: moral, liberal, and critical. The moral analysis of toleration is mainly concerned with the definition and justification of toleration as a social and moral virtue; the liberal analysis is focused on toleration as a political principle; and critical political theory proposes toleration as recognition.