The Political Classics: Green to Dworkin

The Political Classics: Green to Dworkin

The Political Classics: Green to Dworkin

The Political Classics: Green to Dworkin


Providing a lively and informed introduction to the last hundred years of political thinking--from T.H. Green's lectures to Ronald Dworkin's Taking Rights Seriously--the third volume in the successful Political Classics series has been designed to enable all students of political ideas to gain a fuller appreciation of the great works which form the foundation of the subject. Besides giving a full analysis of the contents of each text, this book also highlights what makes the texts of central importance to an understanding of political philosophy. The twelve chapters concentrate on the ideas contained in the texts, rather than on the lives of their writers, and each chapter is supplemented with useful suggestions for further reading.


The texts chosen for inclusion in this third and final volume of The Political Classics span a hundred years. T. H. Green Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation were first delivered in 1879, twenty years after the publication of J. S. Mill On Liberty, with which the preceding set of essays in this series concluded. Ronald Dworkin Taking Rights Seriously first appeared in 1977. With the exception of T. H. Green's work, all the books discussed in the following essays were published in this century.

Selecting the Texts

The problem of selecting the appropriate texts for inclusion has been far more acute and challenging in the case of the present volume than in the case of the previous ones. The reasons for this are plain. We are still very close to the political writers of the past century; we cannot see them in full perspective; and posterity has not had time to make its judgement. The example of T. H. Green, the first writer in this volume, is instructive. Since Green's death in 1882 a quiet consensus has formed which places him firmly among the classic political theorists. With most of those that follow him in this volume, however, such a consensus has not yet crystallized. As a result we, as editors, should perhaps admit that our selection is largely conjectural, and that the best we can hope to have done is to have hit upon the works from the past century that have a lasting, outstanding quality. If it turns out that our expectations have been misplaced, that in itself will tell a tale and stir future editors to ponder our judgement.

This, however, is a shade too evasive. In the Introduction to our first collection of essays, The Political Classics: Plato to Rousseau . . .

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