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The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate

Savagery, Civilization, and Democracy

Daniel I. O'Neill

Many modern conservatives and feminists trace the roots of their ideologies, respectively, to Edmund Burke (1729–1797) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797), and a proper understanding of these two thinkers is therefore important as a framework for political debates today.According to Daniel O’Neill, Burke is misconstrued if viewed as mainly providing a warning about the dangers of attempting to turn utopian visions into political reality, while Wollstonecraft is far more than just a proponent of extending the public sphere rights of man to include women. Rather, at the heart of their differences lies a dispute over democracy as a force tending toward savagery (Burke) or toward civilization (Wollstonecraft). Their debate over the meaning of the French Revolution is the place where these differences are elucidated, but the real key to understanding what this debate is about is its relation to the intellectual tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment, whose language of politics provided the discursive framework within and against which Burke and Wollstonecraft developed their own unique ideas about what was involved in the civilizing process.

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By Nature Equal

The Anatomy of a Western Insight

John E. Coons

What do we mean when we refer to people as being equal by nature? In the first book devoted to human equality as a fact rather than as a social goal or a legal claim, John Coons and Patrick Brennan argue that even if people possess unequal talents or are born into unequal circumstances, all may still be equal if it is true that human nature provides them the same access to moral self-perfection. Plausibly, in the authors' view, such access stems from the power of individuals to achieve goodness simply by doing the best they can to discover and perform correct actions. If people enjoy the same degree of natural capacity to try, all of us are offered the same opportunities for moral self-fulfillment. To believe this is to believe in equality.

This truly interdisciplinary work not only proposes the authors' own rationale but also provides an effective deconstruction of several other contemporary theories of equality, while it engages historical, philosophical, and Christian accounts as well. Furthermore, by divorcing the "best" from the "brightest," it shows how descriptive equality acquires practical significance. Among other accomplishments, By Nature Equal offers communitarians a core principle that has until now eluded them, rescues human dignity from the hierarchy of intellect, identifies racism in a new way, and shows how justice can be freshly grounded in the conviction that every rational person has the same capacity for moral excellence.

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Nouveaux regards sur sa vie et son oeuvre

L'ouvrage explore différents aspects de l'oeuvre de Camus : politique, littérature, philosophie. L'importance pour notre époque de la pensée de Camus ressort de cet ouvrage d'une manière originale. Il ne s'agit pas de faire l'éloge de sa pensée; il s'agit plutôt de partir de ce qu'il a dit, des nombreux espaces qu'il a explorés, pour voir quel chemin une telle pensée nous permet d'emprunter.

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Caring for the Soul in a Postmodern Age

Politics and Phenomenology in the Thought of Jan Patocka

In 1977 the sixty-nine-year-old Czech philosopher Jan Patocûka died from a brain hemorrhage following a series of interrogations by the Czechoslovak secret police. A student of Husserl and Heidegger, he had been arrested, along with young playwright Václav Havel, for publicly opposing the hypocrisy of the Czechoslovak Communist regime. Patocûka had dedicated himself as a philosopher to laying the groundwork of what he termed a “life in truth.” This book analyzes Patocûka’s philosophy and political thought and illuminates the synthesis in his work of Socratic philosophy and its injunction to “care for the soul.” In bridging the gap, not only between Husserl and Heidegger, but also between postmodern and ancient philosophy, Patocûka presents a model of democratic politics that is ethical without being metaphysical, and transcendental without being foundational.

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Challenging Liberalism

Feminism as Political Critique

Lisa H. Schwartzman

Questions about the relevance and value of various liberal concepts are at the heart of important debates among feminist philosophers and social theorists. Although many feminists invoke concepts such as rights, equality, autonomy, and freedom in arguments for liberation, some attempt to avoid them, noting that they can also reinforce and perpetuate oppressive social structures. In Challenging Liberalism Schwartzman explores the reasons why concepts such as rights and equality can sometimes reinforce oppression. She argues that certain forms of abstraction and individualism are central to liberal methodology and that these give rise to a number of problems. Drawing on the work of feminist moral, political, and legal theorists, she constructs an approach that employs these concepts, while viewing them from within a critique of social relations of power.

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Changes of State

Nature and the Limits of the City in Early Modern Natural Law

Annabel S. Brett

This is a book about the theory of the city or commonwealth, what would come to be called the state, in early modern natural law discourse. Annabel Brett takes a fresh approach by looking at this political entity from the perspective of its boundaries and those who crossed them. She begins with a classic debate from the Spanish sixteenth century over the political treatment of mendicants, showing how cosmopolitan ideals of porous boundaries could simultaneously justify the freedoms of itinerant beggars and the activities of European colonists in the Indies. She goes on to examine the boundaries of the state in multiple senses, including the fundamental barrier between human beings and animals and the limits of the state in the face of the natural lives of its subjects, as well as territorial frontiers. Drawing on a wide range of authors, Brett reveals how early modern political space was constructed from a complex dynamic of inclusion and exclusion. Throughout, she shows that early modern debates about political boundaries displayed unheralded creativity and virtuosity but were nevertheless vulnerable to innumerable paradoxes, contradictions, and loose ends.

Changes of State is a major work of intellectual history that resonates with modern debates about globalization and the transformation of the nation-state.

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Changing Unjust Laws Justly

Pro-Life Solidarity with "The Last and Least"

Colin Harte

Changing Unjust Laws Justly is the first book to address systematically the practical, legal, and ethical problems that are encountered in well-intentioned attempts to restrict abortion. It will be of considerable interest not only to political, legal, and moral philosophers, but also to lawmakers and the pro-life movement generally.

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Cicero's Practical Philosophy

Walter Nicgorski

Cicero’s Practical Philosophy marks a revival over the last two generations of serious scholarly interest in Cicero’s political thought. Its nine original essays by a multidisciplinary group of distinguished international scholars manifest close study of Cicero’s philosophical writings and great appreciation for him as a creative thinker, one from whom we can continue to learn. This collection focuses initially on Cicero’s major work of political theory, his De Re Publica, and the key moral virtues that shape his ethics, but the contributors attend to all of Cicero’s primary writings on political community, law, the ultimate good, and moral duties. Room is also made for Cicero’s extensive writings on the art of rhetoric, which he explicitly draws into the orbit of his philosophical writings. Cicero’s concern with the divine, with epistemological issues, and with competing analyses of the human soul are among the matters necessarily encountered in pursuing, with Cicero, the large questions of moral and political philosophy, namely, what is the good and genuinely happy life and how are our communities to be rightly ordered.

The volume also reprints Walter Nicgorski’s classic essay “Cicero and the Rebirth of Political Philosophy,” which helped spark the current revival of interest in Cicero the philosopher.
“This well-planned and exceptionally well-written collection of articles brings together leading Cicero scholars of our day on a carefully chosen set of topics. As such, this book is an invaluable account of the current state of Cicero studies, while advancing those studies.” —Gerard Wegemer, University of Dallas

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The City on the Hill From Below

The Crisis of Prophetic Black Politics

Authored by Stephen Marshall

Within the discipline of American political science and the field of political theory, African American prophetic political critique as a form of political theorizing has been largely neglected. Stephen Marshall, in The City on the Hill from Below, interrogates the political thought of David Walker, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison to reveal a vital tradition of American political theorizing and engagement with an American political imaginary forged by the City on the Hill.

Originally articulated to describe colonial settlement, state formation, and national consolidation, the image of the City on the Hill has been transformed into one richly suited to assessing and transforming American political evil. The City on the Hill from Below shows how African American political thinkers appropriated and revised languages of biblical prophecy and American republicanism.

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Civil Passions

Moral Sentiment and Democratic Deliberation

Sharon R. Krause

Must we put passions aside when we deliberate about justice? Can we do so? The dominant views of deliberation rightly emphasize the importance of impartiality as a cornerstone of fair decision making, but they wrongly assume that impartiality means being disengaged and passionless. In Civil Passions, Sharon Krause argues that moral and political deliberation must incorporate passions, even as she insists on the value of impartiality. Drawing on resources ranging from Hume's theory of moral sentiment to recent findings in neuroscience, Civil Passions breaks new ground by providing a systematic account of how passions can generate an impartial standpoint that yields binding and compelling conclusions in politics. Krause shows that the path to genuinely impartial justice in the public sphere--and ultimately to social change and political reform--runs through moral sentiment properly construed. This new account of affective but impartial judgment calls for a politics of liberal rights and democratic contestation, and it requires us to reconceive the meaning of public reason, the nature of sound deliberation, and the authority of law. By illuminating how impartiality feels, Civil Passions offers not only a truer account of how we deliberate about justice, but one that promises to engage citizens more effectively in acting for justice.

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