Review â An Introduction to Political Philosophy 108


Characters An Introduction to Political Philosophy

An Introduction to Political Philosophy

Ing how the debates between philosophers have developed and searching for possible answers to these provocative uestions His final chapter looks at recent issues particularly feminist political theory an accessible introduction to political philosophy

Review ´ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Ö Jonathan Wolff

Al problems involved in political philosophy and the past attempts to respond to these problems Jonathan Wolff looks at the works of Plato Hobbes Locke Rousseau Mill Marx and Rawls among others examin It was really interesting easy informative introduction to political philosophy Which ask challenge evaluate fundamental uestions of politics connect them with human nature ethics economicetc and answer them by appealing to most influential and revolutionary thinkers and philosophers of politics and what was interesting about this book was that it doesn’t just try to answer fundamental uestions but present various ideas criticise each of them that will give you wider understanding of subject rather than giving the direct answer about uestions and convince you to believe it

Jonathan Wolff Ö 8 Review

What would life be like without the state? What justifies the state? Who should rule? How much liberty should the citizen enjoy? How should property be justly distributed? This book examines the centr Ok second reading What follows is of a synopsis than a review for the review scroll down to my first reading The State of Nature The contemporary state claims the right to command its citizens in a variety of ways What would life be like in a society without such a state? Hobbes idea was that an absence of government would inevitably result in civil war Human beings are constantly strifing for felicity In order to achieve felicity they have to gain power But power can only be gained in competition If you add his premises that there is a scarcity of goods that every men has about the same strength and that there is always the possibility that you could be attacked war is the inevitable conclusion People fight out of pure self defence Hobbes says that morality can only be present where there is a sovereign to enforce laws There are however the „Laws of Nature“ These are conclusions of reasoning If everybody would follow them they would offer the best chances of survival for each individual In total there are 19 such laws and they all boil down to „Do not that to another which you would not have done to yourself“ These laws are collectively rational but for them to be individually rational Hobbes suggests that everyone only applies them when other people are present of whom it is known that they generally obey these laws too But the general level of suspicion in the state of nature is so high that one cannot expect anyone to obey these laws This is why according to Hobbes a sovereign is needed He would have the power to enforce the laws of nature and make what previously was only collectively rational individually rational by punishing those who do not act accordingly Locke however supposes that all human beings have the moral duty to preserve their kind Everyone is only given the liberty to do what the moral laws state as allowed But this would still need to be enforced by someone So each person has a natural right to punish those who disobey the Laws of Nature Locke also substitutes Hobbes' assumption of scarcity with abundance War is still inevitable however People will disagree about whether offenses have taken place Also with the creation of money abundance would turn into scarcity hoarding incentive Rousseau starts out with the premise that people are not only motivated by self preservation but also by pity He also assumes that savage man has only few desires and does not strife for glory or power All of Hobbe's drives to war have been disarmed Rousseau however goes on to examine the transition from the state of nature Innovation as response to growing scarcity would lead to artificial needs Also the idea of private property will emerge and war is the result because of jealousy and ineuality There are three ways to maintain that life without government would be bearable even in the long run One could argue that co operation will emerge even in a society of selfish beings and could even be an evolutionary factor One could argue that all humans are perfectly good and moral but how did the state come into existence then? Or one could say that social structures and rules have to take the place that otherwise would be taken by a state Then however the conclusion comes very close to the modern concept of a libertarian democracy Justifying the State The state is generally defined as having two essential features offering to protect everyone within its territory and maintaining a monopoly of legitimate violence But do we have a moral duty to accept that monopoly? The voluntaristic tradition argues that everyone has to explicitly offer consent to the state Another idea is that people may tacitly consent to the state by enjoying its benefits and not leaving it – this is highly controversial The third approach is the concept of 'hypothetical consent' If we had been in the state of nature we would all have consented to create a state This can either be seen as utilitarian argument the state would have maximized well being for all people or as an argument about beliefs never brought to consciousness Everybody would consent to the state if only they paid enough consideration to the uestion But there might be people who have paid the uestion enormous amounts of consideration and still believe to be better off in a state of nature So we come to the utilitarian arguments in favour of the state As there are only two forms to consider state vs State of Nature and as the state would bring about happiness and as the morally best society is that in which happiness is maximized we have a moral duty to obey the state The core of this argument is the principle of utility This is also the most vulnerable part of the argument Applied directly it would allow for slavery or punishment of innocent in the name of the greater good The only defense is an indirect theory of utilitarianism There is also the argument from the principle of fairness Consider buying rounds in a bar Don't you have a moral duty to buy a round too when other people have done so before? Nozick does not think so When did you consent to taking up burdens in exchange for benefit? All in all there is no satisfactory argument that implies a moral duty of every citizen to obey the state There are however several smaller arguments that add up to a moral duty for the large majority of contemporary societies to obey the laws Who should rule? How can you judge who should rule? There are two factors to consider Firstly one form of government may be better at detecting and steering towards the common good It would be instrumentally justifiable to prefer this government Secondly some other government may have an intrinsic value generally euated to being an expression of euality and freedom Plato's famous argument against democracy the craft analogy says that democracy is not instrumentally justifiable Some people are simply better rulers than others and so ruling must be learned and should only be taught to those who have a talent for it But how should such a ruler know what the people want? Democracy would be better at that Then again what the people want may not be the best for them think chocolate Would a dictator be better at deciding what is best for a people? Condorcet has shown that democracy is probably the better method of detecting the common good as long as the average voter is steered by this motivation and has a than even chance of voting correct Rousseau designed a democratic system in such a way that these two conditions would be met His system is based on the education of the citizens an eradication of ineualities censorship and a civic religion This involves an abolishment of all political factions Rousseau argues that too much debate over political issues will make detection of the general will the common good harder Rousseau's system is instrumentally justifiable on the grounds that it is very likely to achieve the common good But while Rousseau's system is a perfect expression of the value of euality it lacks freedom To avoid this conclusion Rousseau would have argued that doing what one prefers and not what the general will dictates is simple slavery to one's impulses In his society the people are free because they are free to live the life a rational person would choose One can say that it is exactly the tight social net – necessary in order to achieve the common good – that makes his model intrinsically undesirable An alternative model of democracy is the idea of representation It is efficient but also prone to usurpation To protect it from the latter Mill offers several remedies like the separation of powers the limitation of money spend on election campaigns as well as an open vote He also argues that the uneducated should be excluded from voting while some others should be given than one vote In conclusion it might be said that neither Rousseau's nor Mill's model democracies are able to combine instrumental justification with intrinsic value Both are instrumentally justifiable but Rousseau lacks expression of freedom and Mill lacks expression of euality The Place of LibertyThe danger of a democracy is that it may turn out to be of a 'tyranny of the majority' than a good way of ruling a country Mill was worried about this and therefore proposed his Liberty Principle the state may only limit any person's freedom if that person is threatening to harm another person Children and 'barbarians' are excluded from the application of the principle The principle can be illustrated by applying it to freedom of thought Mill says that society will profit from each voicing of a view be it a false one or be it a true one The idea is that only when true thoughts are regularly challenged will they be able to defend themselves against such challenges Other people may argue that the utility of somebody not voicing a view could be higher than the utility of him voicing that view According to Mill's own theory of utilitarianism this person should then stay uiet Mill however avoids this by saying that the usefulness of an opinion is an opinion by itself As it can not be objectively decided whether it is better to voice that view or not the best rule of thumb is to generally allow its voicing To be able to measure which kinds of harm fall under the Liberty Principle and from which persons therefore are to be protected even if it involves limiting the liberty of another human Mill introduces the notion of 'rights based interests' The rights however are not simply stated as axioms as they traditionally have been natural or human rights but they are chosen in that way which best maximizes the general happiness Now that we have seen that a theory of rights can be deduced from the theory of utilitarianism still the uestion remains Why should a person's liberty be such a sacred right that intervention is only permitted in serious situations? Mill's argument says that liberty is a pre condition of so called 'experiments in living' These are essential to progress however The Distribution of Property There are several approaches that aim at establishing a theory of property rights According to Nozick such a theory must explain how justice comes about in three stages in initial acuisition in transfer and in rectification Locke sees four ways to explain justice in intitial acuisition There are the argument from survival encompassing non wastage and you have to leave enough provisos the labour mixing argument refuted by Nozick's ocean analogy the value added argument and the fruits of my work argument None of the arguments explain the majority of property acuisitions in contemporary society so it might be the better way to aim at a morally justifiable system of distributive justice Mill advocates welfare state capitalism because of its utility There have been objections by Marxist thinkers John Rawls uses the method of a hypothetical contract to analyze what persons placed under a veil of ignorance would agree on as rules for society He first defines the conditions of the original position then argues that his principles would be chosen in such a situation and finally claims that this shows that they are just In the original position a thin theory of the good replaces people's own conception of it This theory is based on the idea that rational people want certain primary goods liberties opportunities wealth income and only care about themselves They don't know in which situation their society is to be found but they know that it is within the circumstances of justice between scarcity and abundance Rawls then argues that his Liberty Fair Opportunity and Difference Principles would be chosen by persons if placed in such a situation He gives them priority in the order stated above While the Libery and Fair Opportunity Principles are easily shown to be a rational choice this is harder to do with the broadly egalitarian Difference Principle Arguing for the Difference Principle boils down to an argument for the maximin theory of rational choice Most people would use 'maximize average' as rational choice strategy in normal situations its rationality in economics but Rawls convincingly argues that this would be different in a position that will only occur once and where the impacts will be so profound So the only other rational choice theory that remains is 'constrained maximization' Rawls claims that it fails because it is impossible to set the social minimum in a non arbitrary way Apart from the idea that Rawl's theory of justice is highly biased towards a individualized and commercialized notion of society the main attack is the claim that Liberty and Difference Principle are not consistent with each other Either because to eualize liberty you would have to eualize property Or because giving people liberty makes wealth distribution impossible Nozick says that if you imagine a society with an income distribution patterned to your liking and you imagine a normal exchange of goods and services in that society the pattern can only be withheld if the state intervenes Also if pattern A is just and people moved from pattern A to patter B volunatrily why should pattern B be unjust? Individulism Justice and Feminism Some might say that the selection of topics in the book has been biased from what may be called a 'liberal individualist' perspective A 'extreme liberal individualist' would assume that the task of political philosophy is to devise principles of justice that freedom and euality are of paramount importance that justice is a or even the priority and that any rights we have only arise out of actions of individuals Objections to this view generally come down to the idea that „liberal individualism offers a false picture of human nature and social relations and with it a misleading and damaging vision of what it is possible for human beings to achieve politically“ p182 One example of opposition to the liberal individualist perspective that can be examined as a case study is feminist political thinking The opposition centers around the idea that justice is a gender biased concept Women would generally appreciate of a care perspective deciding on a case by case basis The reason for this has been argued to be the separation of a boy from his mother in early child hood necessary to be identified as male and the opposite event happening to female babies The author's perspective on this is that justice could offer a safety net rights as an insurance policy first reading This book is a great introduction to the subject of political philsophy The simple style allows for an easy read while still mentioning all the important factors and arguments relevant It is especially the separation into several chapters that I enjoyed each chapter dealing with a different topic and the different views on that topic This made it easy to understand the connections between the opinions making the reader understand the bigger picture

  • Paperback
  • 215
  • An Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • Jonathan Wolff
  • English
  • 21 March 2020
  • 9780199296095

About the Author: Jonathan Wolff

to Political PDF/EPUB Á Jonathan Wolff is a Professor specialising in political philosophy at University College London in England Wolff earned his MPhil from UCL under the direction of GA Cohen He is the secretary of the British Philosophical Association and honorary secretary of the Aristotelian Society which publishes Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Recently Wolff's work has specialized in disadvantage.



10 thoughts on “An Introduction to Political Philosophy

  1. says:

    This book possesses a virtue I greatly appreciate in non fiction that purports to teach me something; it is written in a measured and ualified style Wolff introduces the key points of political philosophy from Locke Rousseau Hobbes and so on whilst also recognising the lack of conclusive answers within the discipline The book is structured around simple yet impossible uestions like who should rule and are there such things as natural rights It provides a useful accessible and brief introduction to key thinkers including a much appreciated chapter on feminist political theory The book avoids getting bogged down in the many side uestions that occur whilst reading it such as whether one conclusive model of human nature can ever exist to what extent happiness can ever be measured and whether liberty euality and fraternity can ever be reconciledI enjoyed this book and found that it did what I'd hoped which was to systematise formalise and flesh out the bits and pieces of political philosophy I'd picked up here and there It reminded me for example of being taught about Bentham and utilitarianism when I was 17 At the time such concepts bored me rigid which I blame on the tedium of the AS General Studies curriculum It seems odd in retrospect that at 17 I was fascinated by political abstractions in the context of the French Revolution but in no way connected this to the dull lessons on broader political philosophy Likewise I remember Hobbes being mentioned in my first year of undergraduate studies during lectures about the British constitution Apparently it's only now much later that I feel there is a gap in my understanding because I ignored previous efforts to introduce me to political philosophy This book was helpful in filling this gap as it was introductory but not patronising or overly simplistic The sections dealing with the intersection between political philosophy and economics were perhaps where I felt I already knew the most and thus read less passively They reminded me of the difficulty there is in drawing a boundary between politics and economics The latter purports to be a much empirical objective discipline but in my view it is just as ideological and biased by context as any other social science just less willing to be honest about it Wolff's points about Stewart Mills were an illustration of this given Mills support for laissez faire market economics characteristic of a Victorian industrialist I am also continually intrigued by the idea apparently espoused by several political thinkers across the ideological spectrum that socialism is only suited to a better perfect breed of humanity that doesn't exist yet whilst in our current debased state we must rely on markets to allocate resources In the 21st century the view of human nature as perfectible seems to have retreated perhaps mired in associations with eugenics and other horrors? Anyway this book provides a helpful guide to the most important contributions to political philosophy made by great thinkers with indigestibly huge oeuvres of work such as Rousseau Locke Hobbes and Rawls It is intended to be a broad overview and as such has a focus on work from the 17th 18th 19th and early 20th centuries It provides a useful background to reading for example Fukuyama I rather wish I'd read it before tackling 'End of History and the Last Man' but never mind There is plenty to be picked at in that book without also considering that it would seem his conception of human nature is less convincing than what Hobbes wrote some 350 years before

  2. says:

    Ok second reading What follows is of a synopsis than a review for the review scroll down to my first reading The State of Nature The contemporary state claims the right to command its citizens in a variety of ways What would life be like in a society without such a state? Hobbes idea was that an absence of government would inevitably result in civil war Human beings are constantly strifing for felicity In order to achieve felicity they have to gain power But power can only be gained in competition If you add his premises that there is a scarcity of goods that every men has about the same strength and that there is always the possibility that you could be attacked war is the inevitable conclusion People fight out of pure self defence Hobbes says that morality can only be present where there is a sovereign to enforce laws There are however the „Laws of Nature“ These are conclusions of reasoning If everybody would follow them they would offer the best chances of survival for each individual In total there are 19 such laws and they all boil down to „Do not that to another which you would not have done to yourself“ These laws are collectively rational but for them to be individually rational Hobbes suggests that everyone only applies them when other people are present of whom it is known that they generally obey these laws too But the general level of suspicion in the state of nature is so high that one cannot expect anyone to obey these laws This is why according to Hobbes a sovereign is needed He would have the power to enforce the laws of nature and make what previously was only collectively rational individually rational by punishing those who do not act accordingly Locke however supposes that all human beings have the moral duty to preserve their kind Everyone is only given the liberty to do what the moral laws state as allowed But this would still need to be enforced by someone So each person has a natural right to punish those who disobey the Laws of Nature Locke also substitutes Hobbes' assumption of scarcity with abundance War is still inevitable however People will disagree about whether offenses have taken place Also with the creation of money abundance would turn into scarcity hoarding incentive Rousseau starts out with the premise that people are not only motivated by self preservation but also by pity He also assumes that savage man has only few desires and does not strife for glory or power All of Hobbe's drives to war have been disarmed Rousseau however goes on to examine the transition from the state of nature Innovation as response to growing scarcity would lead to artificial needs Also the idea of private property will emerge and war is the result because of jealousy and ineuality There are three ways to maintain that life without government would be bearable even in the long run One could argue that co operation will emerge even in a society of selfish beings and could even be an evolutionary factor One could argue that all humans are perfectly good and moral but how did the state come into existence then? Or one could say that social structures and rules have to take the place that otherwise would be taken by a state Then however the conclusion comes very close to the modern concept of a libertarian democracy Justifying the State The state is generally defined as having two essential features offering to protect everyone within its territory and maintaining a monopoly of legitimate violence But do we have a moral duty to accept that monopoly? The voluntaristic tradition argues that everyone has to explicitly offer consent to the state Another idea is that people may tacitly consent to the state by enjoying its benefits and not leaving it – this is highly controversial The third approach is the concept of 'hypothetical consent' If we had been in the state of nature we would all have consented to create a state This can either be seen as utilitarian argument the state would have maximized well being for all people or as an argument about beliefs never brought to consciousness Everybody would consent to the state if only they paid enough consideration to the uestion But there might be people who have paid the uestion enormous amounts of consideration and still believe to be better off in a state of nature So we come to the utilitarian arguments in favour of the state As there are only two forms to consider state vs State of Nature and as the state would bring about happiness and as the morally best society is that in which happiness is maximized we have a moral duty to obey the state The core of this argument is the principle of utility This is also the most vulnerable part of the argument Applied directly it would allow for slavery or punishment of innocent in the name of the greater good The only defense is an indirect theory of utilitarianism There is also the argument from the principle of fairness Consider buying rounds in a bar Don't you have a moral duty to buy a round too when other people have done so before? Nozick does not think so When did you consent to taking up burdens in exchange for benefit? All in all there is no satisfactory argument that implies a moral duty of every citizen to obey the state There are however several smaller arguments that add up to a moral duty for the large majority of contemporary societies to obey the laws Who should rule? How can you judge who should rule? There are two factors to consider Firstly one form of government may be better at detecting and steering towards the common good It would be instrumentally justifiable to prefer this government Secondly some other government may have an intrinsic value generally euated to being an expression of euality and freedom Plato's famous argument against democracy the craft analogy says that democracy is not instrumentally justifiable Some people are simply better rulers than others and so ruling must be learned and should only be taught to those who have a talent for it But how should such a ruler know what the people want? Democracy would be better at that Then again what the people want may not be the best for them think chocolate Would a dictator be better at deciding what is best for a people? Condorcet has shown that democracy is probably the better method of detecting the common good as long as the average voter is steered by this motivation and has a than even chance of voting correct Rousseau designed a democratic system in such a way that these two conditions would be met His system is based on the education of the citizens an eradication of ineualities censorship and a civic religion This involves an abolishment of all political factions Rousseau argues that too much debate over political issues will make detection of the general will the common good harder Rousseau's system is instrumentally justifiable on the grounds that it is very likely to achieve the common good But while Rousseau's system is a perfect expression of the value of euality it lacks freedom To avoid this conclusion Rousseau would have argued that doing what one prefers and not what the general will dictates is simple slavery to one's impulses In his society the people are free because they are free to live the life a rational person would choose One can say that it is exactly the tight social net – necessary in order to achieve the common good – that makes his model intrinsically undesirable An alternative model of democracy is the idea of representation It is efficient but also prone to usurpation To protect it from the latter Mill offers several remedies like the separation of powers the limitation of money spend on election campaigns as well as an open vote He also argues that the uneducated should be excluded from voting while some others should be given than one vote In conclusion it might be said that neither Rousseau's nor Mill's model democracies are able to combine instrumental justification with intrinsic value Both are instrumentally justifiable but Rousseau lacks expression of freedom and Mill lacks expression of euality The Place of LibertyThe danger of a democracy is that it may turn out to be of a 'tyranny of the majority' than a good way of ruling a country Mill was worried about this and therefore proposed his Liberty Principle the state may only limit any person's freedom if that person is threatening to harm another person Children and 'barbarians' are excluded from the application of the principle The principle can be illustrated by applying it to freedom of thought Mill says that society will profit from each voicing of a view be it a false one or be it a true one The idea is that only when true thoughts are regularly challenged will they be able to defend themselves against such challenges Other people may argue that the utility of somebody not voicing a view could be higher than the utility of him voicing that view According to Mill's own theory of utilitarianism this person should then stay uiet Mill however avoids this by saying that the usefulness of an opinion is an opinion by itself As it can not be objectively decided whether it is better to voice that view or not the best rule of thumb is to generally allow its voicing To be able to measure which kinds of harm fall under the Liberty Principle and from which persons therefore are to be protected even if it involves limiting the liberty of another human Mill introduces the notion of 'rights based interests' The rights however are not simply stated as axioms as they traditionally have been natural or human rights but they are chosen in that way which best maximizes the general happiness Now that we have seen that a theory of rights can be deduced from the theory of utilitarianism still the uestion remains Why should a person's liberty be such a sacred right that intervention is only permitted in serious situations? Mill's argument says that liberty is a pre condition of so called 'experiments in living' These are essential to progress however The Distribution of Property There are several approaches that aim at establishing a theory of property rights According to Nozick such a theory must explain how justice comes about in three stages in initial acuisition in transfer and in rectification Locke sees four ways to explain justice in intitial acuisition There are the argument from survival encompassing non wastage and you have to leave enough provisos the labour mixing argument refuted by Nozick's ocean analogy the value added argument and the fruits of my work argument None of the arguments explain the majority of property acuisitions in contemporary society so it might be the better way to aim at a morally justifiable system of distributive justice Mill advocates welfare state capitalism because of its utility There have been objections by Marxist thinkers John Rawls uses the method of a hypothetical contract to analyze what persons placed under a veil of ignorance would agree on as rules for society He first defines the conditions of the original position then argues that his principles would be chosen in such a situation and finally claims that this shows that they are just In the original position a thin theory of the good replaces people's own conception of it This theory is based on the idea that rational people want certain primary goods liberties opportunities wealth income and only care about themselves They don't know in which situation their society is to be found but they know that it is within the circumstances of justice between scarcity and abundance Rawls then argues that his Liberty Fair Opportunity and Difference Principles would be chosen by persons if placed in such a situation He gives them priority in the order stated above While the Libery and Fair Opportunity Principles are easily shown to be a rational choice this is harder to do with the broadly egalitarian Difference Principle Arguing for the Difference Principle boils down to an argument for the maximin theory of rational choice Most people would use 'maximize average' as rational choice strategy in normal situations its rationality in economics but Rawls convincingly argues that this would be different in a position that will only occur once and where the impacts will be so profound So the only other rational choice theory that remains is 'constrained maximization' Rawls claims that it fails because it is impossible to set the social minimum in a non arbitrary way Apart from the idea that Rawl's theory of justice is highly biased towards a individualized and commercialized notion of society the main attack is the claim that Liberty and Difference Principle are not consistent with each other Either because to eualize liberty you would have to eualize property Or because giving people liberty makes wealth distribution impossible Nozick says that if you imagine a society with an income distribution patterned to your liking and you imagine a normal exchange of goods and services in that society the pattern can only be withheld if the state intervenes Also if pattern A is just and people moved from pattern A to patter B volunatrily why should pattern B be unjust? Individulism Justice and Feminism Some might say that the selection of topics in the book has been biased from what may be called a 'liberal individualist' perspective A 'extreme liberal individualist' would assume that the task of political philosophy is to devise principles of justice that freedom and euality are of paramount importance that justice is a or even the priority and that any rights we have only arise out of actions of individuals Objections to this view generally come down to the idea that „liberal individualism offers a false picture of human nature and social relations and with it a misleading and damaging vision of what it is possible for human beings to achieve politically“ p182 One example of opposition to the liberal individualist perspective that can be examined as a case study is feminist political thinking The opposition centers around the idea that justice is a gender biased concept Women would generally appreciate of a care perspective deciding on a case by case basis The reason for this has been argued to be the separation of a boy from his mother in early child hood necessary to be identified as male and the opposite event happening to female babies The author's perspective on this is that justice could offer a safety net rights as an insurance policy first reading This book is a great introduction to the subject of political philsophy The simple style allows for an easy read while still mentioning all the important factors and arguments relevant It is especially the separation into several chapters that I enjoyed each chapter dealing with a different topic and the different views on that topic This made it easy to understand the connections between the opinions making the reader understand the bigger picture

  3. says:

    A while I went looking for a good introduction to political philosophy and eventually found Jonathan Wolff’s “An Introduction to Political Philosophy” a clear and well written book I definitely recommend reading It consist of six chapters which cover the central uestions or themes in political philosophy The State of Nature Justifying the State Who Should Rule? The Place of Liberty The Distribution of Property and Individualism Justice Feminism From this book I learned about the difference between ‘representative’ and ‘direct’ models of democracy and about liberalism and the various critiues of liberalism as well as about the difference between political emancipation and human emancipation Here’s a list of some of the uestions and problems Wolff’s book addresses From this list it may seem that Woolf reveals his takeslant on these issues but in fact he remains fairly ‘neutral’ in his discussion of these uestionsOn what basis should people possess property?Who should hold political power?Are there any justified limits to my liberty?What rule or principle should govern the distribution of goods?What place is there for the free market?Should we tolerate large ineualities of wealth?What rights and liberties should people have?How much power should the state have?What is democracy and is democracy always a ‘good thing’? Is there something intrinsically good about democracy?How should property be distributed?What would life be like without the existence of political power in a state of nature?

  4. says:

    It was really interesting easy informative introduction to political philosophy Which ask challenge evaluate fundamental uestions of politics connect them with human nature ethics economicetc and answer them by appealing to most influential and revolutionary thinkers and philosophers of politics and what was interesting about this book was that it doesn’t just try to answer fundamental uestions but present various ideas criticise each of them that will give you wider understanding of subject rather than giving the direct answer about uestions and convince you to believe it

  5. says:

    I had to read this book to find some structure in the everyday uestions and contradictions that I come across in markets politics and social life The whole book was amazing and the coherence of the prose superb for a beginner like me I will continue my readings from the rich references provided

  6. says:

    Wow We Live In A Society

  7. says:

    This Oxford University press publication is a lucid clear introduction to some of the most important uestions of political philosophy Written in a style that manages to be chatty without being irritating something not often achieved by professional philosophers aspiring to write for the general or student audience In this book one discovers that politics can be studied from both a descriptive and normative standpoint In this book one discovers that characteristically descriptive political studies are undertaken by the political scientist sociologist and the historian By studying how things are it helps to explain how things can be and studying how they can be is indispensable for assessing how they ought to be Through self knowledge and honest introspection one can learn so so much One also learns in this book that it’s a natural right to punish those who offend against the laws of nature Each of us has the right to punish those who harm another’s life liberty or property In this book one considers political philosophy in a theological framework too and it uses natural reason when making judgements One of course needs moral reasoning for justification of the state and when evaluating the laws of nature This book covers topics on the state societal norms and the laws of the land Ideas from great thinkers such as Hobbes Locke and Rousseau are included Topics on our political obligations are also included as well as sections on social justice and utilitarianism Few philosophers are now prepared to accept utilitarian reasoning for they think it has morally unreasonable conseuences including grave injustices This book is very similar to one’s like for instance Anarchy state and utopia by Robert Nozick yet it is also very uniue too I would definitely recommend this book to philosophy and theology students and those who are interested in law and politics I would also recommend In search of truth by Brian Hodgekinson about the school of economic science as an all round introduction to philosophy in a broader sense ”Every man that hath any possession or enjoyment of any part of the dominions of any government doth thereby give his tacit consent and is as far forth obliged to obedience to the laws of the government during such enjoyment as any one under it; whether this possession be of land to him and his heirs for ever or a lodging for only a week; or whether it barely travelling freely on the highway” Second treatise S 119 P 348

  8. says:

    an accessible introduction to political philosophy

  9. says:

    The book provides a very good genetal introduction to some central debates at the core of political philosophy Most of the essay can works as a sum of the thought of many great phiilosophers ie history of political thought but the last chapter tries to deal with the subject from a broader angle delving into some contemporaneous issues The book is generally fine absolutely not too technical but I found Wolff's style excessively manual It may serve as a handbook rather than as a traditional essay

  10. says:

    Jonathan Wolff's An Introduction to Political Philosophy was the best of the four books that were assigned for my freshman history of ideas course in college I especially liked how each chapter was about a different fundamental uestion in political philosophy If nothing else readers learn what important uestions they should be askingOne criticism of the book is that the first chapter on The State of Nature only considers the views of Hobbes Locke and Rousseau As a libertarian anarchist fairly familiar with the anarcho capitalist literature on this subject I was very disappointed with this non critical examination of life without a state and the very premature conclusion reached by the author on page 33In the end I think we must agree with Hobbes Locke and Rousseau Nothing genuinely worthy of being called a state of nature will at least in the long term be a condition in which humans can flourishNo student or other reader should accept this without first considering the arguments put forth in the anarcho capitalist literature arguments that Wolff sadly left out of his book completely

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