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  1. Philosophy
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  3. Political Philosophy: Methodology
  4. Introduction to Political Philosophy | Open Yale Courses

Property precedes government. The Social Contract , his most Immanuel Kant and G. His classical republican theory was extended in the Science of Right , the first part of the Metaphysics of Morals Hegel, , was definitely not a classical liberal. Herbert Spencer, , was a prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era. Lysander Spooner, , was an American individualist anarchist and abolitionist. His first, and main, work, A Theory of Justice , made him famous. Learn more about the political philosophy program.

View official major requirements. You can choose semester, summer, short term, and yearlong options for international study. You can also pursue graduate training in such areas as law, journalism, and public administration. Recent graduates of the program have attended many of the top graduate schools in the U. Others, like Nicole Oresme in his Livre de Politiques , categorically denied this right to overthrow an unjust ruler.

The Magna Carta , viewed by many as a cornerstone of Anglo-American political liberty, explicitly proposes the right to revolt against the ruler for justice's sake. Other documents similar to Magna Carta are found in other European countries such as Spain and Hungary. During the Renaissance secular political philosophy began to emerge after about a century of theological political thought in Europe. While the Middle Ages did see secular politics in practice under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire , the academic field was wholly scholastic and therefore Christian in nature.

That work, as well as The Discourses , a rigorous analysis of the classical period , did much to influence modern political thought in the West. A minority including Jean-Jacques Rousseau interpreted The Prince as a satire meant to be given to the Medici after their recapture of Florence and their subsequent expulsion of Machiavelli from Florence. At any rate, Machiavelli presents a pragmatic and somewhat consequentialist view of politics, whereby good and evil are mere means used to bring about an end—i.



Thomas Hobbes , well known for his theory of the social contract , goes on to expand this view at the start of the 17th century during the English Renaissance. Although neither Machiavelli nor Hobbes believed in the divine right of kings, they both believed in the inherent selfishness of the individual. It was necessarily this belief that led them to adopt a strong central power as the only means of preventing the disintegration of the social order. During the Enlightenment period, new theories emerged about what the human was and is and about the definition of reality and the way it was perceived, along with the discovery of other societies in the Americas, and the changing needs of political societies especially in the wake of the English Civil War , the American Revolution , the French Revolution , and the Haitian Revolution.

These theorists were driven by two basic questions: one, by what right or need do people form states; and two, what the best form for a state could be. These fundamental questions involved a conceptual distinction between the concepts of "state" and "government. The term "government" would refer to a specific group of people who occupied the institutions of the state, and create the laws and ordinances by which the people, themselves included, would be bound.

This conceptual distinction continues to operate in political science , although some political scientists, philosophers, historians and cultural anthropologists have argued that most political action in any given society occurs outside of its state, and that there are societies that are not organized into states that nevertheless must be considered in political terms.

As long as the concept of natural order was not introduced, the social sciences could not evolve independently of theistic thinking. Since the cultural revolution of the 17th century in England, which spread to France and the rest of Europe, society has been considered subject to natural laws akin to the physical world. Political and economic relations were drastically influenced by these theories as the concept of the guild was subordinated to the theory of free trade , and Roman Catholic dominance of theology was increasingly challenged by Protestant churches subordinate to each nation-state , which also in a fashion the Roman Catholic Church often decried angrily preached in the vulgar or native language of each region.

However, the enlightenment was an outright attack on religion, particularly Christianity. After Voltaire, religion would never be the same again in France. In the Ottoman Empire , these ideological reforms did not take place and these views did not integrate into common thought until much later. As well, there was no spread of this doctrine within the New World and the advanced civilizations of the Aztec , Maya , Inca , Mohican , Delaware, Huron and especially the Iroquois.

The Iroquois philosophy in particular gave much to Christian thought of the time and in many cases actually inspired some of the institutions adopted in the United States: for example, Benjamin Franklin was a great admirer of some of the methods of the Iroquois Confederacy , and much of early American literature emphasized the political philosophy of the natives.

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John Locke in particular exemplified this new age of political theory with his work Two Treatises of Government. In it Locke proposes a state of nature theory that directly complements his conception of how political development occurs and how it can be founded through contractual obligation.

Locke stood to refute Sir Robert Filmer 's paternally founded political theory in favor of a natural system based on nature in a particular given system. The theory of the divine right of kings became a passing fancy, exposed to the type of ridicule with which John Locke treated it. Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes but like Aquinas, Locke would accept Aristotle's dictum that man seeks to be happy in a state of social harmony as a social animal.

Unlike Aquinas's preponderant view on the salvation of the soul from original sin , Locke believes man's mind comes into this world as tabula rasa. For Locke, knowledge is neither innate, revealed nor based on authority but subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance and moderation.

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According to Locke, an absolute ruler as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural law is based on reason and seeking peace and survival for man. The Marxist critique of capitalism—developed with Friedrich Engels —was, alongside liberalism and fascism, one of the defining ideological movements of the twentieth century. The industrial revolution produced a parallel revolution in political thought. Urbanization and capitalism greatly reshaped society. During this same period, the socialist movement began to form. In the midth century, Marxism was developed, and socialism in general gained increasing popular support, mostly from the urban working class.

Without breaking entirely from the past, Marx established principles that would be used by future revolutionaries of the 20th century namely Vladimir Lenin , Mao Zedong , Ho Chi Minh , and Fidel Castro. Though Hegel 's philosophy of history is similar to Immanuel Kant 's, and Karl Marx 's theory of revolution towards the common good is partly based on Kant's view of history—Marx declared that he was turning Hegel's dialectic, which was "standing on its head", "the right side up again".

In addition, the various branches of anarchism , with thinkers such as Mikhail Bakunin , Pierre-Joseph Proudhon or Peter Kropotkin , and syndicalism also gained some prominence. In the Anglo-American world, anti-imperialism and pluralism began gaining currency at the turn of the 20th century. World War I was a watershed event in human history, changing views of governments and politics.

The Russian Revolution of and similar, albeit less successful, revolutions in many other European countries brought communism —and in particular the political theory of Leninism , but also on a smaller level Luxemburgism gradually —on the world stage. At the same time, social democratic parties won elections and formed governments for the first time, often as a result of the introduction of universal suffrage. From the end of World War II until , when John Rawls published A Theory of Justice , political philosophy declined in the Anglo-American academic world, as analytic philosophers expressed skepticism about the possibility that normative judgments had cognitive content, and political science turned toward statistical methods and behavioralism.

In continental Europe, on the other hand, the postwar decades saw a huge blossoming of political philosophy, with Marxism dominating the field.

Political Philosophy: Methodology

Communism remained an important focus especially during the s and s. Colonialism and racism were important issues that arose. In general, there was a marked trend towards a pragmatic approach to political issues, rather than a philosophical one. Much academic debate regarded one or both of two pragmatic topics: how or whether to apply utilitarianism to problems of political policy, or how or whether to apply economic models such as rational choice theory to political issues.

The rise of feminism , LGBT social movements and the end of colonial rule and of the political exclusion of such minorities as African Americans and sexual minorities in the developed world has led to feminist, postcolonial , and multicultural thought becoming significant.

This led to a challenge to the social contract by philosophers Charles W. Mills in his book The Racial Contract and Carole Pateman in her book The Sexual Contract that the social contract excluded persons of colour and women respectively. In Anglo-American academic political philosophy, the publication of John Rawls 's A Theory of Justice in is considered a milestone. Rawls used a thought experiment , the original position , in which representative parties choose principles of justice for the basic structure of society from behind a veil of ignorance.

Rawls also offered a criticism of utilitarian approaches to questions of political justice. Robert Nozick 's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , which won a National Book Award , responded to Rawls from a libertarian perspective and gained academic respectability for libertarian viewpoints. Contemporaneously with the rise of analytic ethics in Anglo-American thought, in Europe several new lines of philosophy directed at critique of existing societies arose between the s and s.

Most of these took elements of Marxist economic analysis, but combined them with a more cultural or ideological emphasis.

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Along somewhat different lines, a number of other continental thinkers—still largely influenced by Marxism—put new emphases on structuralism and on a "return to Hegel ". Within the post- structuralist line though mostly not taking that label are thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze , Michel Foucault , Claude Lefort , and Jean Baudrillard. The Situationists were more influenced by Hegel; Guy Debord , in particular, moved a Marxist analysis of commodity fetishism to the realm of consumption, and looked at the relation between consumerism and dominant ideology formation.

Another debate developed around the distinct criticisms of liberal political theory made by Michael Walzer , Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor. The liberal - communitarian debate is often considered valuable for generating a new set of philosophical problems, rather than a profound and illuminating clash of perspective. Bell argue that, contra liberalism, communities are prior to individuals and therefore should be the center of political focus.

Introduction to Political Philosophy | Open Yale Courses

Communitarians tend to support greater local control as well as economic and social policies which encourage the growth of social capital. A pair of overlapping political perspectives arising toward the end of the 20th century are republicanism or neo- or civic-republicanism and the capability approach. The resurgent republican movement aims to provide an alternate definition of liberty from Isaiah Berlin 's positive and negative forms of liberty, namely "liberty as non-domination.

To a republican the mere status as a slave, regardless of how that slave is treated, is objectionable. Prominent republicans include historian Quentin Skinner , jurist Cass Sunstein , and political philosopher Philip Pettit. The capability approach, pioneered by economists Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen and further developed by legal scholar Martha Nussbaum , understands freedom under allied lines: the real-world ability to act.

Both the capability approach and republicanism treat choice as something which must be resourced. In other words, it is not enough to be legally able to do something, but to have the real option of doing it. Current emphasis on "commoditization of the everyday" has been decried by many contemporary theorists, some of them arguing the full brunt of it would be felt in ten years' time. A prominent subject in recent political philosophy is the theory of deliberative democracy. A larger list of political philosophers is intended to be closer to exhaustive. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the academic journal, see Political Theory journal. Primary topics. Index of politics articles Politics by country Politics by subdivision Political economy Political history Political history of the world Political philosophy.

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Bureaucracy street-level Adhocracy.