Political Philosophy

Political Philosophy : A Beginners' Guide for Students and Politicians

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Politicians invoke grand ideas: social justice, democracy, liberty, equality,community. But what do these ideas really mean? How can politicians across the political spectrum appeal to the same values? This revised and expanded edition of Political Philosophy: A Beginner's Guide for Students and Politicians, answers these important questions. Accessible and lively, the book is an ideal student text, but it also brings the insights of the world's leading political philosophers to a wide general audience. Using plenty of examples, it equips readers to think for themselves about the ideas that shape political life. Democracy works best when both politicians and voters move beyond rhetoric to think clearly and carefully about the political principles that should govern their society. But clear thinking is difficult in an age when established orthodoxies have fallen by the wayside. Bringing political philosophy out of the ivory tower and within the reach of all, this book provides us with tools to cut through the complexities of modern politics. In so doing, it makes a valuable contribution to the democratic process.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 137.16 x 213.36 x 20.32mm | 317.51g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd Revised edition
  • 0745635326
  • 9780745635323
  • 160,296

About Adam Swift

Adam Swift, Fellow in Politics and Sociology at Balliol College, and Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Justice, Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford.show more

Review quote

"An obviously well thought out and researched book, providing an excellent touchstone for those coming to political philosophy for the first time." Australian Journal of Political Science "Political Philosophy is enthusiastically recommended not just for students, but for anyone seeking to prepare themselves to cast a well-informed vote in elections." Midwest Book Review "A triumph of a book that illuminates the last two decades of politics and points the way to the next ... How does philosophy affect politics? Through books like this." James Purnell MP "Adam Swift's introduction to politial philosophy is clear-headed, fair-minded and fluently written. It will be of great value to students and all those interested in contemporary debates about liberty, equality, justice and community." Michael Sandel, Harvard Universityshow more

Back cover copy

Politicians invoke grand ideas: social justice, democracy, liberty, equality, community. But what do these ideas really mean? How can politicians across the political spectrum appeal to the same values?This revised and expanded edition of Political Philosophy: A Beginner's Guide for Students and Politicians, answers these important questions. Accessible and lively, the book is an ideal student text, but it also brings the insights of the world's leading political philosophers to a wide general audience. Using plenty of examples, it equips readers to think for themselves about the ideas that shape political life.Democracy works best when both politicians and voters move beyond rhetoric to think clearly and carefully about the political principles that should govern their society. But clear thinking is difficult in an age when established orthodoxies have fallen by the wayside. Bringing political philosophy out of the ivory tower and within the reach of all, this book provides us with tools to cut through the complexities of modern politics. In so doing, it makes a valuable contribution to the democratic process.show more

Table of contents

Preface to first edition. Preface to second edition. Introduction. Further reading. Part I: Social Justice. Concept v. conceptions: the case of justice. Hayek v. social justice. Rawls: justice as fairness. Nozick: justice as entitlement. Public opinion: justice as desert. Conclusion. Further reading. Part II: Liberty. Two concepts of liberty?. Three distinctions between conceptions of liberty: (1) effective freedom v. formal freedom (2) freedom as autonomy v. freedom as doing what one wants (3) freedom as political participation v. freedom beginning where politics ends. Freedom, private property, the market and redistribution. Resisting the totalitarian menace. Conclusion. Further reading. Part III: Equality. Egalitarian plateau. Equality of opportunity. Equality and relativities: should we mind the gap?. Positional goods. Three positions that look egalitarian but aren't really (1) Utilitarianism (or any aggregative principle) (2) Diminishing principles, priority to the worst-off, and maximin (3) Entitlement and sufficiency. Equality strikes back. Conclusion. Further reading. Part IV: Community. Correcting misunderstandings and misrepresentations. Objection 1: Liberals assume that people are selfish or egoistic. Objection 2: Liberals advocate a minimal state. Objection 3: Liberals emphasize rights rather than duties or responsibilities. Objection 4: Liberals believe that values are subjective or relative. Objection 5: Liberals neglect the way in which individuals are socially constituted. Objection 6: Liberals fail to see the significance of communal relations, shared values and a common identity. Objection 7: Liberals wrongly think that the state can and should be neutral. Summary. Outstanding Issues. Liberalism, neutrality and multiculturalism. Liberalism and the nation state. Conclusion. Further Reading. Conclusion. Indexshow more

Rating details

162 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 27% (43)
4 43% (69)
3 26% (42)
2 4% (7)
1 1% (1)
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