Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology

Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology

Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology

Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology

Synopsis

This textbook reflects the buoyant state of contemporary political philosophy, and the development of the subject in the past two decades. It includes seminal papers on fundamental philosophical issues such as:the nature of social explanationdistributive justiceliberalism and communitarianismcitizenship and multiculturalismnationalismdemocracycriminal justice.A range of views is represented, demonstrating the richness of the philosophical contribution to some of the most contested areas of public policy and political decision making. Each section has an introduction by the editors that situates the papers in the ongoing debate. Further Reading sections feature at the end of each chapter.Readings from the following thinkers are included:Steven Lukes, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Bhikhu Parekh, Antony Duff, G.A. Cohen, Derek Parfit, Roger Scruton, Michael Sandel, Alasdair MacIntrye. Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy will be a valuable resource for upper-level students interested in current thinking in this area.

Excerpt

It is sensible to open an introduction to an anthology of papers and other readings by demarcating the field of contemporary political philosophy and by saying something about our selection criteria for this book. What, then, is contemporary political philosophy? First, all our selections were published after the publication of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971) an event which substantially revived political philosophy. Second, the 'contemporary' in our title means we have chosen topics that are the ongoing foci of debate: the papers here are not museum pieces. Third, we have chosen pieces that are, in some sense, polemical, that take a position in the debates, rather than provide surveys of the field. the readings are all drawn from the anglophone, analytic tradition of philosophy. This is partly intellectual preference, and also a way of restricting the (still vast) literature available to us. However, the selection and organisation of the contributions has a wider justification.

We want to show that the discipline of political philosophy is flourishing. This is partly a result of drives internal to the arguments and debates, but also the result of the attempt to come to terms with political change and development in the world beyond the Academy. However, some might question this positive assessment. We would exaggerate if we characterised the terrain of contemporary political philosophy as footnotes to Rawls (just as Whitehead exaggerated when he characterised the whole of Western thought as footnotes to Plato), but there would nonetheless be some truth in the characterisation. Rawls' work is still extremely important, and, whatever might be said for the originality and analytical clarity of A Theory of Justice, Rawls works with the framework that dominates the actual political institutions of the Western world - liberalism. This may make it seem that the discipline is less flourishing than it actually is, because of relatively widespread agreement and the appearance that, on substantive matters, as well as approaches, we are all liberals now. This appearance is reinforced because of the decline of the major anti-liberal position: Marxism.

Up until the mid-1980s Marxism, in one form or another, held some significant moral and intellectual weight, not just in terms of the numbers of academics who would describe

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