by Kramer, Matthew H.
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During the past several decades, political philosophers have frequently clashed with one another over the question whether governments are morally required to remain neutral among reasonable conceptions of excellence and human flourishing. Whereas the numerous followers of John Rawls (and kindred philosophers such as Ronald Dworkin) have maintained that a requirement of neutrality is indeed incumbent on every system of governance, other philosophers — often designated as ‘perfectionists’ — have argued against the existence of such a requirement. Liberalism with Excellence enters these debates not by plighting itself unequivocally to one side or the other, but instead by reconceiving each of the sides and thus by redirecting the debates that have occurred between them.
On the one hand, the book rejects the requirement of neutrality by contending that certain subsidies for the promotion of excellence in sundry areas of human endeavour can be proper and vital uses of resources by governments. Advocating such departures from the constraint of neutrality, the book presents a version of liberalism that can rightly be classified as ‘perfectionist’. On the other hand, the species of perfectionism espoused in Liberalism with Excellence diverges markedly from the theories that have usually been so classified. Indeed, much of the book assails various aspects of those theories. What is more, the aspirational perfectionism elaborated in the closing chapters of the volume is reconcilable in most key respects with a suitably amplified version of Rawlsianism. Hence, by reconceiving both the perfectionist side and the neutralist side of the prevailing disputation, Liberalism with Excellence combines and transforms their respective insights
eds. Michael Weber and Kevin Vallier
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“Political theory, from antiquity to the present, has been divided over the relationship between the requirements of justice and the limitations of persons and institutions to meet those requirements. Some theorists hold that a theory of justice should be utopian or idealistic–that the derivation of the correct principles of justice should not take into account human and institutional limitations. Others insist on a realist or non-utopian view, according to which feasibility–facts about what is possible given human and institutional limitations–is a constraint on principles of justice. In recent years, the relationship between the ideal and the real has become the subject of renewed scholarly interest. This anthology aims to represent the contemporary state of this classic debate. By and large, contributors to the volume deny that the choice between realism and idealism is binary. Rather, there is a continuum between realism and idealism that locates these extremes of each view at opposite poles. The contributors, therefore, tend to occupy middle positions, only leaning in the ideal or non-ideal direction. Together, their contributions not only represent a wide array of attractive positions in the new literature on the topic, but also collectively advance how we understand the difference between idealism and realism itself.”
by Karl Widerquist and Grant S. McCall
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“The state of nature, the origin of property, the origin of government, the primordial nature of inequality and war – why do political philosophers talk so much about the Stone Age? And are they talking about a Stone Age that really happened, or is it just a convenient thought experiment to illustrate their points?
Karl Widerquist and Grant S. McCall take a philosophical look at the origin of civilisation, examining political theories to show how claims about prehistory are used. Drawing on the best available evidence from archaeology and anthropology, they show that much of what we think we know about human origins comes from philosophers’ imagination, not scientific investigation.”
by David Davenport and Gordon Lloyd
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“Today, American “rugged individualism” is in a fight for its life on two battlegrounds: in the policy realm and in the intellectual world of ideas that may lead to new policies. In this book, the authors look at the political context in which rugged individualism flourishes or declines and offer a balanced assessment of its future prospects. They outline its path from its founding—marked by the Declaration of Independence—to today, focusing on different periods in our history when rugged individualism was thriving or was under attack. The authors ultimately look with some optimism toward new frontiers of the twenty-first century that may nourish rugged individualism. They assert that we cannot tip the delicate balance between equality and liberty so heavily in favor of equality that there is no liberty left for individual Americans to enjoy.”
by Alex Tuckness and Clark Wolf
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“An accessible and well-balanced introduction to the main issues in political philosophy written by an author team from the fields of both philosophy and politics. This text connects issues at the core of political philosophy with current, live debates in policy, politics, and law and addresses different ideals of political organization, such as democracy, liberty, equality, justice, and happiness. Written with great clarity, Political Philosophy, First Edition is accessible and engaging to those who have little or no prior knowledge of political philosophy and is supported with supplemental pedagogical and instructor material on the This Is Philosophy series site.”
eds. R. J. Snell and Steven F. McGuire
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“Concepts of Nature compare and contrast classical, medieval, and modern conceptions of nature in order to better understand how and why the concept of nature no longer seems to provide a limit or standard for human action. These essays also evaluate whether a rearticulation of pre-modern ideas (or perhaps a reconciliation or reconstitution on modern terms) is desirable and/or possible.”
eds. Robert E. Goodin
and James S. Fishkin
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“Political Theory Without Borders offers a comprehensive survey of the issues that have shaped political theory in the wake of social and environmental globalization.
- Focuses on specific questions that arise from issues of global spillovers like climate change and pollution, international immigration, and political intervention abroad
- Includes chapters written by some of the best new scholars working in the field today, along with key texts from some of the most well-known scholars of previous generations
- Illustrates how the classics concerns of political theory – justice and equality, liberty and oppression – have re-emerged with renewed significance at the global level
- The newest volume in the distinguished philosophy, politics & society series, initiated by Peter Laslett in 1956.”
there was contention for a long time between the upper classes and the populace. Not only was the constitution at this time oligarchical in every respect, but the poorer classes, men, women, and children, were the serfs of the rich. They were known as Pelatae and also as Hectemori, because they cultivated the lands of the rich at the rent thus indicated. The whole country was in the hands of a few persons, and if the tenants failed to pay their rent they were liable to be haled into slavery, and their children with them. All loans were secured upon the debtor's person, a custom which prevailed until the time of Solon, who was the first to appear as the champion of the people. But the hardest and bitterest part of the constitution in the eyes of the masses was their state of serfdom. Not but what they were also discontented with every other feature of their lot; for, to speak generally, they had no part nor share in anything.
Some things never change…