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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.


Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

3. Who Should Rule?  

This chapter considers the question of what sort of state and government we should have. A common assumption is that only a democracy is ever fully justifiable. Anything else — a tyranny, an aristocracy, an absolute monarchy — lacks justification. But what is a democracy? Is it really so attractive? The chapter explores some of the most fundamental problems in formulating democratic theory before looking at arguments for and against democracy itself. It first examines the tension between the idea of democracy as a system of ‘majority rule’, and the idea of democratic ‘consideration for individuals’. It then analyses Plato's arguments against democracy, focusing on his use of the so-called craft analogy to defend his position, along with his concept of guardianship. It also discusses Jean-Jacques Rousseau's notion of the general will and concludes with an overview of representative democracy.