Modern Political Philosophy

Modern Political Philosophy

Modern Political Philosophy

Modern Political Philosophy

Synopsis

As we approach the end of the century and reflect on the large number of wars and political incidents that continue to rage throughout the world, it is imperative to understand the background and implication of the political philosophies that instigate many of these conflicts. Hudelson's book is a brief introduction to the major topics and issues in political philosophy from the Enlightenment to Postmodernism. Within the scope of ten short chapters, Hudelson presents both the historical background of, and a systematic discussion of contemporary issues relating to the major traditions within political philosophy, making this the ideal introduction to the topic for students and interested readers.

Excerpt

Human beings are social animals. Like ants, bees, wolves, and other social animals, we depend upon others of our kind for our survival in this world. Like these other social animals, we live in groups, and our group life is organized into a system of social order. Different individuals play different roles, bearing the particular responsibilities attached to these roles. Among us, as among all of the social animals, interactions between individuals are governed by a system of more or less complicated rules. But unlike the other social animals, which replicate the ways of life of their ancestors, human beings are constantly changing their way of life. Other animals have relatively firm dispositions to obey the social rules of their kind genetically programmed into them. The form of their social life changes slowly, as a matter of natural history. For them, the form of their social life is a biological given. We, on the contrary, are historical creatures. We create the forms of our social existence in historical time. For us, the form of our social existence is a matter of deliberation and choice. It is the task of political philosophy to think about what form of social existence is best.

This book aims at providing the reader with an introduction to political philosophy. Unlike many other introductions to political philosophy, this book takes a historical approach to the subject. We will begin with the natural-rights theory of the American Revolution. Here the fundamental task of political philosophy is revealed with stark clarity, for political:revolution involves both the rapid transformation of the fundamental rules of social existence and deliberation about what those fundamental rules should be. The philosophy of natural rights will thus serve as a model for what political philosophy is. But, like all things human, the philosophy of natural rights is itself subject to historical . . .

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