The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia

By Ian McAllister; Steve Dowrick et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 13
Political Theory
Chandran Kukathas

Political theory in Australia is a not a single enterprise with a clearly definable ambit. Its practitioners include historians of ideas, philosophers wrestling with abstract political concepts (like justice or legitimacy), and political scientists concerned with the ethical dimensions of issues in public policy, as well as a variety of scholars from different disciplines who have reflected on general questions of political principle, social reform, or institutional design. A single chapter on political theory in Australia will thus necessarily be selective, since it cannot hope to discuss more than a fraction of the activities in the field.

At the same time, however, political theory is by nature parasitic on other disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities, since its ambit is so general so even a discussion of a selective element of political theory in Australia will encroach on various aspects of political science, and the social sciences more generally. The aim of this chapter, then, is not to offer a guide to work by political theorists in Australia or even the writings of political theorists about Australia but to present an account of recent theoretical reflection on Australia: its politics and its institutions. The larger part of its purpose is to survey the work of others, particularly over the past ten years; but an important aspect of its concern is to offer some theoretical reflections of its own. This is, after all, what political theorists do.


Australian political thought and the Australian
political system

Australia has no significant tradition of theorising about its political institutions. While Britain can point to a long history of thought, from Hobbes to Oakeshott, discussing British institutions and the modern European state, and the United States has a political tradition that includes such names as Madison, Calhoun and Rawls, Australian reflection on the Australian polity cannot boast any such pedigree. This is not because such matters have never been tackled by Australian thinkers (Melleuish 1995). But there are no figures in this tradition whom even Australian political theorists consider worthy of regular study and teaching (though Greg Melleuish has argued that Bruce Smith's Liberty and Liberalism is

-223-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 705

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?