Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy

ISBN-10: 067403063X

ISBN-13: 9780674030633

Edition: 2007

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Description:

This last book by the late John Rawls, derived from written lectures and notes for his long-running course on modern political philosophy, offers readers an account of the liberal political tradition from a scholar viewed by many as the greatest contemporary exponent of the philosophy behind that tradition. Rawls's goal in the lectures was, he wrote, "to identify the more central features of liberalism as expressing a political conception of justice when liberalism is viewed from within the tradition of democratic constitutionalism." He does this by looking at several strands that make up the liberal and democratic constitutional traditions, and at the historical figures who best represent these strands--among them the contractarians Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; the utilitarians Hume, Sidgwick, and J. S. Mill; and Marx regarded as a critic of liberalism. Rawls's lectures on Bishop Joseph Butler also are included in an appendix. Constantly revised and refined over three decades, Rawls's lectures on these figures reflect his developing and changing views on the history of liberalism and democracy--as well as how he saw his own work in relation to those traditions. With its clear and careful analyses of the doctrine of the social contract, utilitarianism, and socialism--and of their most influential proponents--this volume has a critical place in the traditions it expounds. Marked by Rawls's characteristic patience and curiosity, and scrupulously edited by his student and teaching assistant, Samuel Freeman, these lectures are a fitting final addition to his oeuvre, and to the history of political philosophy as well.
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Book details

Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 9/15/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 496
Size: 5.75" wide x 9.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.716
Language: English

John Rawls, professor of philosophy at Harvard University, had published a number of articles on the concept of justice as fairness before the appearance of his magnum opus, A Theory of Justice (1971). While the articles had won for Rawls considerable prestige, the reception of his book thrust him into the front ranks of contemporary moral philosophy. Presenting a Kantian alternative to conventional utilitarianism and intuitionism, Rawls offers a theory of justice that is contractual and that rests on principles that he alleges would be accepted by free, rational persons in a state of nature, that is, of equality. The chorus of praise was loud and clear. Stuart Hampshire acclaimed the book as "the most substantial and interesting contribution to moral philosophy since the war."H. A. Bedau declared: "As a work of close and original scholarship in the service of the dominant moral and political ideology of our civilization, Rawls's treatise is simply without a rival." Rawls historically achieved two important things: (1) He articulated a coherent moral philosophy for the welfare state, and (2) he demonstrated that analytic philosophy was most capable of doing constructive work in moral philosophy. A Theory of Justice has become the most influential work in political, legal, and social philosophy by an American author in the twentieth century.

Editor's
Foreword
Introductory Remarks Texts Cited
Introduction: Remarks on Political Philosophy
Lectures on Hobbes
Hobbes's Secular Moralism and the Role of His Social Contract
Human Nature and the State of Nature
Hobbes's Account of Practical Reasoning
The Role and Powers of the Sovereign
Appendix: Hobbes
Index
Lectures on Locke
His Doctrine of Natural Law
His Account of a Legitimate Regime
Property and the Class State
Lectures on Hume
"Of the Original Contract"
Utility, Justice, and the Judicious Spectator
Lectures on Rousseau
The Social Contract: Its Problem
The Social Contract: Assumptions and the General Will (I)
The General Will (II) and the Question of Stability
Lectures on Mill
His Conception of Utility
His Account of Justice
The Principle of Liberty
His Doctrine as a Whole
Appendix: Remarks on Mill's Social Theory
Lectures on Marx
His View of Capitalism as a Social System
His Conception of Right and Justice
His Ideal: A Society of Freely Associated Producers
Appendixes
Four Lectures on Henry Sidgwick
Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics
Sidgwick on Justice and on the Classical Principle of Utility
Sidgwick's Utilitarianism
Summary of Utilitarianism
Five Lectures on Joseph Butler
The Moral Constitution of Human Nature
The Nature and Authority of Conscience
The Economy of the Passions
Butler's Argument against Egoism
Supposed Conflict between Conscience and Self-Love
Appendix: Additional
Notes on Butler
Course Outline
Index
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