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This collection of extracts from works by philosophers, political theorists, and social critics ranges over two millennia, from the ideas of Plato and Aristotle to those of contemporary thinkers such as John Rawls and Robert Nozick, and examines the nature of justice, its importance in human life, and its place among the other virtues. The scope of the collection gives a clear picture of the differences and continuities that have marked the debate: Plato's emphasis on the ideal of 'sticking to one's task' contrasts with the modern emphasis on individual rights, while the account of justice as part of the law of nature offered by Aristotle and Cicero contrasts with Hume's analysis of justice as an artificial virtue. Alan Ryan's introductory essay emphasizes the stringency of justice, showing how its demands can conflict with considerations of the general welfare. The book concludes with a discussion of Marx's view that justice is perhaps merely a concession to a world of scarcity and selfishness created by capitalist necessities. This is an essential guide to interpretations of one of the central values of political life and thought.

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  • Paperback | 206 pages
  • 137.2 x 210.8 x 17.8mm | 249.48g
  • Oxford University Press
  • OxfordUnited Kingdom
  • English
  • New.
  • 0198780389
  • 9780198780380
  • 1,173,401

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Author Information

Alan Ryan FBA is a former OUP delegate (1983-7). He was Lecturer in Politics at Keele University from 1963-6, and the University of Essex from 1966-9. He taught at Oxford University from 1969-87 and was a Fellow of New College. He has been Visiting Professor in Politics at several Universities around the world: City University of New York (1967-8), Texas (1972), California (1977), and Witwatersrand (1978). He was Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University (1974, 1979); Mellon Fellow at Princeton University (1991-2), and de Carle Lecturer at the University of Otago (1983). He is editor of The Philosophy of Social Explanation (OUP, 1973), which is a volume in the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series, and co-editor, with G. A. J. Rogers, of Perspectives on Thomas Hobbes (1990).

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Review quote

'Excellent introductory text.' P. Johnson, University of Southampton 'With this addition to the series, Oxford Readings in Politics and Government continues to serve students of political theory well.' Political Studies 'An outstanding book - as one would expect from the Editor.' Philip Bean, University of Loughborough

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