Political Philosophy: An Historical Introduction

Paperback | May 1, 2012

byMichael White

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From Greek antiquity to the latest theories, this historical survey of political philosophy not only covers the major thinkers in the field but also explores the theme of how political philosophy relates to the nature of man. It illustrates how the great political thinkers have alwaysgrounded their political thought in what the author terms a 'normative anthropology', which typically has not only ethical but metaphysical and/or theological components. Starting with the ancient Greek Sophists, author Michael J. White examines how thinkers over the centuries have approached such political and philosophical concerns as justice, morality, and human flourishing, offering substantial studies of-among others-Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Hobbes,Rousseau, Marx, and J. S. Mill. White highlights the impact of Christianity on political philosophy, illustrating the diversity of that impact by studies of Augustine, Aquinas, and Marsilius of Padua. Concluding with an in-depth analysis of John Rawls and contemporary liberal political philosophy,this text blends insight and information in a refreshing and useful manner. A brief Epilogue considers both the value and the limitations of political philosophy and its study.

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From Greek antiquity to the latest theories, this historical survey of political philosophy not only covers the major thinkers in the field but also explores the theme of how political philosophy relates to the nature of man. It illustrates how the great political thinkers have alwaysgrounded their political thought in what the author...

Michael White is Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:May 1, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199860513

ISBN - 13:9780199860517

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and Preface to Second Edition1. IntroductionPolitics and human natureThe idea of human nature or the human good as 'function': normative anthropologyMy 'story' of political philosophy-and my cast of charactersEnduring issues in political philosophy2. Classical Greek political philosophy: beginningsNature or nurture?Protagoras' democratic traditionalismThe functionalistic foundation of the political aretai in nature (physis)Glaucon's contractarian political theory3. Plato: Government for corrupted intellectsSocrates' polis of pigsThe 'republic' of Plato's RepublicThe human ergon and the purpose of political organizationFurthering rationality by means of the polis?Why should anyone return to the cave?Plato and 'the rule of law'4. Aristotle: politics as the master artThe human good: intellectual and politicalActing correctly (eupraxia) as a grand end?The polis as a complete communityThe role of politics: the master art?Concluding thoughts5. Cicero: the cosmic significance of politicsCicero as champion of the res publicaWhat is right (ius): the rule of law (lex) and normative anthropologyVirtues, duties, and laws6. Christianity: a political religion?The New Testament and beyondPauline cosmopolitanismThe Roman Empire ChristianizedThe advent of tempora Christiana (the Christian era)7. Augustine, Aquinas and Marsilius of Padua: politics for saints, sinners, and hereticsSt. AugustineThe two rationales of Augustine's City of GodThe two citiesTheoretical political consequencesChristians as good citizens of secular states?St. Thomas AquinasThe human function: nature and praeternatureThe 'parts' of the eternal law: divine, natural, and human lawPolitical forms, procedures, and other particularsAquinas' political philosophy: some concluding observationsMarsilius of PaduaThe autonomous but coercive regnum (political community) and its lawThe political wisdom and authority of the whole body of citizens (or the weightier part thereof)8. Hobbes and Locke: seventeenth-century contractarianismThomas Hobbes: natural law simplified and modernizedNatural law, natural rights, and the human functionLaw, contracts, and the 'Leviathan'The civil state: sovereigns and subjectsConcluding thoughts on God and sovereignsJohn Locke: divinely mandated autonomy, natural rights, and propertyMoral knowledge and human motivationThe state of nature and the social contractProperty and liberal political theory: Lockean origins9. Rousseau and Marx: reaction to bourgeois-liberalismJean-Jacques Rousseau: autonomous citizens for the true republicThe intertwined development of civilization, corruption, and moralityThe Social Contract and the mile: republics and republican citizensPolitics and the human functionKarl Marx: distortion of the human function within the bourgeois-liberal statePolitical emancipation and the bourgeois-liberal stateAlienation and the human functionHistorical materialism and the coming of communismConcluding thoughts: the cook shops of the future made present10. Mill and Rawls: liberalism ascendant?John Stuart Mill: perfectionist liberalismMill's liberalismLiberty and governmentDemocratic republicanismConcluding thought on Mill and liberalismJohn Rawls: political (and non-perfectionist?) liberalismEgalitarian justice as the "first virtue of social institutions": basic assumptionsRawls' two principles of justice: what they apply to and whyConsensus, public reason, and the distinction between citoyen and bourgeoisThe ultimate justification of Rawlsian liberalism?EpilogueNotes

Editorial Reviews

"A masterpiece of clear thinking, this well-written text will challenge many to reflect more closely on matters often too quickly decided. The result is more than one might ever have expected of an introductory text of this size; indeed a better introduction to the subject is hard to imagine."- --Alastair Hannay, University of Oslo