Philosophy Political Philosophy
by
Keith Hyams, Igor Shoikhedbrod
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0091

Introduction

Political philosophy is that branch of philosophy concerned with political morality and associated concepts. Dominant themes include justice, equality, liberty, democracy, rights, the distribution of resources, and political authority. This entry focuses on contemporary discussions and debates in political philosophy.

General Overviews

Several overviews provide accessible introductions to contemporary debates in political philosophy. The widely used introduction by Kymlicka 2001 examines various debates from the perspectives of different traditions. Swift 2006 deals more concretely with some of the leading topics in contemporary political thought such as social justice, liberty, equality, and democracy. Wolff 2006 provides a key overview to debates about political rule, distributive justice, and liberty. The introduction by Miller 2003 gives a very brief overview of the field. Simmons 2007 also gives a very clear introduction to political philosophy.

  • Kymlicka, Will. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    An introduction to some of the leading schools of thought in contemporary political philosophy, most notably, liberalism, libertarianism, Marxism, communitarianism, as well as feminism. This introduction will be of particular use to senior undergraduate students, as well as graduate students, who may already have some basic knowledge of the field.

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    • Miller, David. Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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      Miller introduces the field by posing a series of provocative questions, such as the possibility of living together without politics, the extent to which the market should be regulated instead of eliminated, and the future prospects of multicultural politics and global governance.

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      • Simmons, A. J. Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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        A very clear introduction that brings to the fore issues of political authority and organization, including the author’s own take on these issues.

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        • Swift, A. Political Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide for Students and Politicians. Cambridge, MA: Polity, 2006.

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          An accessible introduction to the most pertinent themes in contemporary political philosophy, including social justice, liberty, equality, community, and democracy. The book is geared specifically for undergraduate students.

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          • Wolff, J. An Introduction to Political Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2006.

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            A very good overview of various debates associated with political rule, distributional justice, and the place of liberty.

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            Textbooks

            Various textbooks provide helpful introductions to the main debates in contemporary political philosophy. Each of the textbooks mentioned are edited volumes that include chapters by leading authors. McKinnon 2008 is quite unique in that each chapter is accompanied by a case study demonstrating how the topic can be applied to a real-world issue. This textbook is also supported by Oxford University Press’s online learning resource center. Goodin and Pettit 1995 provides a comprehensive coverage of the field with several excellent entries. Dryzek and Honig 2008 provides a good analysis of leading issues in political philosophy, capturing recent social and economic developments. Christiano and Christman 2009 pairs essays with opposing views to showcase current debates on central themes in political philosophy.

            • Christiano, Thomas, and John Christman. Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2009.

              DOI: 10.1002/9781444310399E-mail Citation »

              A lively format with opposing essays on central themes in political philosophy including such issues as methodology, liberal neutrality, democratic politics and its limitations, liberty and distributive justice, as well as global justice.

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              • Dryzek, John, and Bonnie Honig, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

                DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199548439.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                Provides very accessible analyses of various issues in political theory, incorporating past legacies and more contemporary contributions, such as those of postcolonial theory

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                • Goodin, Robert, and Philip Pettit, eds. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1995.

                  DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631199519.1995.xE-mail Citation »

                  An excellent introduction that is neatly divided into multidisciplinary perspectives, political ideologies, as well as a rich selection of chapters by leading theorists on topics as broad as property and discourse.

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                  • McKinnon, Catriona, ed. Issues in Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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                    A very clear introduction with authoritative chapters, each of which includes a case study relating philosophy to a real-world issue, as well as relevant references for further reading. This text will be a useful resource for undergraduate students seeking an accessible introduction to some of the foundational concepts that are driving contemporary debates.

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                    Anthologies

                    Anthologies provide a helpful way to access several key readings in a field in one go. Some of the entries in subsequent sections include anthologies on specific topics, whereas the present section includes only anthologies covering the whole field. Goodin and Pettit 2005 provides a rich anthology with a selection of writing from leading contemporary political philosophers. Matravers and Pike 2003 creatively juxtaposes authors in contemporary political philosophy to introduce some of the main debates. Farrelly 2004 organizes the work of contemporary political philosophers according to their different schools of thought.

                    • Goodin, R., and P. Pettit, eds. Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

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                      A rich anthology in contemporary political philosophy with a balanced selection of work from different traditions. This collection is broad in scope and devotes, for instance, an entire section to the issue of oppression, which has been under-theorized in contemporary thought.

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                      • Farrelly, Colin, ed. Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader. London: SAGE, 2004.

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                        Conveniently groups the key works in political philosophy by tradition. This should serve as an excellent point of reference for graduate students and researchers.

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                        • Matravers, D., and J. Pike, eds. Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2003.

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                          Provides a thorough collection of work juxtaposed with one another to shed substantial light on some of the major debates in contemporary political philosophy. It includes a helpful section devoted to contemporary methodological issues and their implications for political philosophy.

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                          Liberalism and Communitarianism

                          The debate between liberal and communitarian thinkers has had a divisive influence in political philosophy. Proponents of liberalism emphasize the primacy of individual autonomy and value neutrality, while communitarians place greater emphasis upon community life, and on the role of the state in promoting the good life (although some liberals—notably Raz—have also emphasized the latter). Mulhall and Swift 1996 gives a helpful overview of the work of major theorists in both traditions. Avineri and de-Shalit 1992 provides a comprehensive selection of work by liberal and communitarian thinkers. Paul, et al. 2007 provides a recent review of liberalism, tracing the development of its central tenants in the history of political thought. Dworkin 1992 provides an in-depth assessment of liberalism and its relationship to freedom, justice, and equality. MacIntyre 2007 critiques Enlightenment liberalism and contemporary versions of liberalism. Rawls 1996 provides a novel interpretation of liberalism as overlapping consensus in the context of political diversity. Sandel 1998 demonstrates the limits of liberalism as it relates to promoting the good life. Walzer 1983 goes beyond mere critique of liberal individualism to describe a communitarian approach to justice. Miller and Walzer 1995 provides a nuanced rejoinder to the earlier debate with critical analyses by other commentators.

                          • Avineri, S., and A. de-Shalit, eds. Communitarianism and Individualism. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.

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                            A rich collection of essays showcasing the debate between prominent liberal and communitarian thinkers on the relationship between individual autonomy and the role of the state in promoting the good life.

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                            • Dworkin, Ronald. “Liberalism.” In A Matter of Principle. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.

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                              Provides a thorough analysis of liberal political theory, exposing various internal divisions within liberalism.

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                              • MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. 3d ed. South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007.

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                                A communitarian critique of enlightenment liberalism and its contemporary adherents.

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                                • Miller, David, and Michael Walzer. Pluralism, Justice, and Equality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

                                  DOI: 10.1093/0198280084.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                  A useful collection of essays and critical reappraisals of Walzer’s earlier work, Spheres of Justice, examining the scope and place of community, pluralism, distributive justice, and corresponding issues, with responses from Walzer.

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                                  • Mulhall, Stephen, and Adam Swift. Liberals and Communitarians. 2d ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1996.

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                                    Introduces major thinkers from both traditions.

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                                    • Paul, Ellen, Fred Miller, and J. Paul, eds. Liberalism: Old and New. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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                                      Provides a recent evaluation of contemporary liberal thought and its relevance for issues of constitutionality and public policy.

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                                      • Rawls, John. Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

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                                        Presents a contemporary liberal theory of justice amid cultural diversity, in which Rawls argues that constitutional principles should be based on overlapping consensus.

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                                        • Sandel, Michael. Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                          Develops a communitarian critique of liberalism.

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                                          • Walzer, M. Spheres of Justice. New York: Basic Books, 1983.

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                                            A rare example of an attempt to advance a communitarian approach to political theory, defending a pluralistic account of justice.

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                                            Political Authority and Obligation

                                            Debate about political authority and obligation asks whether, and why, citizens of a state are obliged to obey their political masters. Raz 1990 provides a comprehensive selection of work by contemporary legal and political philosophers on the subject of political authority. Rawls 1964 develops an argument originally stated by H. L. A Hart, which claims that we have obligation to obey the law based on a duty of fair play. Klosko 2005 also examines political obligation from the perspective of fairness, rejecting alternative views. Estlund 2007 argues that the authority of democracy is grounded in its ability to make the best decisions from all reasonable points of view. Green 1988 suggests that contemporary theories of political authority fail to justify the authority of the state, and he proposes consent as the only reasonable justification. Hyams 2004 outlines Nozick’s argument for the minimal state as given in Part 1 of Anarchy, State and Utopia. Knowles 2009 provides a critique of modern anarchist, skeptical, and communitarian approaches to political authority. Both Wolff 1998 and Simmons 1995 defend philosophical anarchism, the view that we do not have a duty to obey the law. Simmons examines several arguments for political obligation and finds them all wanting. Wolff claims that we ought not bind ourselves to a legal system, in order to preserve our own moral autonomy.

                                            • Estlund, David. Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

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                                              Argues that the authority of democracy is grounded in what he calls “epistemic proceduralism”: its ability to make the best decisions from all reasonable points of view.

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                                              • Green, Leslie. The Authority of the State. Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

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                                                Critiques various theoretical justifications for political authority provided by contractualists and communitarians, while at the same time rejecting anarchism. Green argues that the consent of citizens is the sole justification for political authority.

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                                                • Hyams, K. “Nozick’s Real Argument for the Minimal State.” Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (2004): 353–364.

                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9760.2004.00204.xE-mail Citation »

                                                  Explains Nozick’s argument for the authority of the minimal state.

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                                                  • Klosko, George. Political Obligations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

                                                    DOI: 10.1093/0199256209.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                    A contemporary defense of political obligation from the principle of fairness. Criticizes alternative theories of obligation.

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                                                    • Knowles, D. Political Obligation: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                      Provides a critique of various approaches to political obligation.

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                                                      • Rawls, John. “Legal Obligation and the Duty of Fair Play.” In Law and Philosophy. Edited by Sidney Hook, 3–18. New York: New York University Press, 1964.

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                                                        Rawls argues that we have an obligation to obey the law based on a principle of fairness.

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                                                        • Raz, Joseph, ed. Authority. New York: New York University Press, 1990.

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                                                          A rich selection of papers from legal and political theorists. Thinkers include Robert Wolff, H. A. Hart, G. M. Anscombe, and Ronald Dworkin.

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                                                          • Simmons, J. Moral Principles and Political Obligations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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                                                            A comprehensive review and rejection of all leading philosophical arguments in favor of political obligation.

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                                                            • Wolff, R. In Defense of Anarchism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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                                                              Defends philosophical anarchism on the ground that we have a duty to preserve our own moral autonomy.

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                                                              Contractualism

                                                              Contractualism is the view that we ought morally to do what agents would agree to do in some hypothetical agreement. Originally published in 1971, the famous work Theory of Justice (Rawls 1999) provides the classic statement of contemporary contractualism. Dworkin 1989 critically assesses Rawls’s contractualist position. Freeman 2007, written by someone who studied under Rawls, outlines and responds to various criticisms directed against Rawls. The widely read rejection of contractualism by Cohen 2008 continues to provoke lively debate among philosophers. Nussbaum 2006 provides a critique of Rawls’s contractualism and its Kantian notion of rational capacity, focusing on its inability to accommodate the needs and capacities of disabled persons, justice beyond borders, and the treatment of nonhuman animals. The influential work by Scanlon 2000, What We Owe to Each Other, describes an alternative contractualist position that justifies moral principles by reference to what could be reasonably rejected. Gauthier 1987 develops a contractualist account based on game theory models of rationality. Darwall 2003’s collection includes texts by several of the previous authors as well as historical texts.

                                                              • Cohen, G. A. Rescuing Justice and Equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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                                                                The second half of the book constitutes a systematic rejection of contractualism on the grounds that moral intuitions are ultimately explained by reference to fact-free principles rather than, as contractualists claim, by reference to facts.

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                                                                • Darwall, Stephen, ed., Contractarianism/Contractualism. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.

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                                                                  A helpful collection that includes both historical and contemporary texts.

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                                                                  • Dworkin, Ronald. “The Original Position.” In Reading Rawls. Edited by N. Daniels. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                    Dworkin’s critical examination of Rawls’s original position.

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                                                                    • Freeman, Samuel. Justice and the Social Contract. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                      A series of important essays on Rawls’s political philosophy. Freeman places Rawls in the historical context of the social contract tradition, and carefully addresses criticisms against this position.

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                                                                      • Gauthier, D. Morals By Agreement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/0198249926.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Uses game theory to develop an account of practical rationality and moral theory.

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                                                                        • Nussbaum, M. Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2006.

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                                                                          A thoroughgoing critique of contractualism, particularly Rawlsian contractualism and its most pressing shortcomings as a theory of justice. Nussbaum advances instead a capabilities approach, which she argues is more conducive to the goals of social justice.

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                                                                          • Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. 2d ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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                                                                            Rawls’s classic statement of contemporary contractualism, in which he describes the original position and the principles of justice that emerge from it.

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                                                                            • Scanlon, T. What We Owe to Each Other. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

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                                                                              A contractualist alternative to Rawls that justifies moral principles by reference to what could be reasonably rejected.

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                                                                              Equality

                                                                              Contemporary political philosophy has been marked by a voluminous literature on the nature of our egalitarian commitments. Many of the key papers in these debates are brought together in Clayton and Williams 2002. One debate that stands out as central is the so-called Equality of What debate. The influential position named (and rejected) by Anderson 1999 as “luck egalitarianism” is defended by Dworkin 2000 and modified by Cohen 1989 and Arneson 1989. Another key debate is between Rawls 1999 and Cohen 2008 about whether inequalities can be justified on the grounds that they benefit the worst off. Olsaretti 2007’s collection brings together key papers on the role of desert in contemporary egalitarianism. Sen 2009 rejects this approach to justice entirely in favor of a comparative approach that guides us toward a more just society.

                                                                              • Anderson, E. “What is the Point of Equality?” Ethics 109 (1999): 287–337.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1086/233897E-mail Citation »

                                                                                The classic rejection of luck egalitarianism, in which Anderson names the theory only to have a name for what she wants to reject.

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                                                                                • Arneson, R. “Equality and Equal Opportunity for Welfare.” Philosophical Studies 56 (1989): 77–93.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/BF00646210E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  An important restatement of the so-called luck egalitarian position in terms of equality of opportunity for welfare.

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                                                                                  • Clayton, Matthew, and A. Williams, eds. The Ideal of Equality. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

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                                                                                    An excellent collection of influential papers on equality. The volume opens with an introductory chapter that describes the landscape of debates in contemporary egalitarianism, followed by key texts from Rawls, Scanlon, Nagel, Parfit, Temkin, G. A. Cohen, Arneson, and Dworkin. In particular, the article by Parfit on equality and priority, previously published in the journal Ratio, has had a major influence on the field.

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                                                                                    • Cohen, G. A. “On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice.” Ethics 99 (1989): 906–944.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1086/293126E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      Responds to Dworkin’s theory of equality of resources, moving debate away from a hypothetical-choice-based view about justified inequalities toward an actual-choice-based view of justified inequalities.

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                                                                                      • Cohen, G. A. Rescuing Justice and Equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                        The first half of the book constitutes an extended rejection of Rawls’s 1999 argument that inequalities are justified when they benefit the poorest members of society.

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                                                                                        • Dworkin, R. Sovereign Virtue. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                          Includes Dworkin’s original papers on equality of welfare and equality of resources, as well as applied chapters about equality in the real world.

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                                                                                          • Olsaretti, S., ed. Desert and Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                            A helpful selection of readings from leading egalitarians, examining the role of desert in contemporary debate about egalitarianism and justice.

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                                                                                            • Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. 2d ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                              Rawls’s famous theory of justice, in which he argues that inequalities are justified when they benefit the poorest in society.

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                                                                                              • Sen, Amartya. The Idea of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                Rejects traditional economistic accounts of justice for a comparative approach toward a more equal society.

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                                                                                                Rights

                                                                                                What are rights, and what is their relation to other moral concepts like freedom and autonomy? The collection by Waldron 1984 includes several key papers on rights. Feinberg 1970 demonstrates the significance of rights by outlining a thought experiment in which we don’t have rights. Dworkin 1984 describes rights as trumps, which always take priority over other moral demands. Dworkin 1977’s work in legal philosophy put rights in the frontline of an attack on legal positivism. Kramer, et al. 1998 asks whether rights are grounded in interests or choices. The classic statement of the former view is provided by Raz 1986. Steiner 1994’s classic statement of left-libertarian rights introduces the notion of “compossibility” into rights theory: rights must be “compossible” in the sense that it must be possible to conjunctively fulfill all over our rights. Campbell 2006 explains how theories of rights inform social welfare issues and self-determination for minority groups. Thomson 1990 gives a very thorough treatment of rights.

                                                                                                • Campbell, Tom. Rights: A Critical Introduction. Devon, UK: Routledge, 2006.

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                                                                                                  A comprehensive introduction to historical and contemporary theories of rights. Examines how rights can apply to freedom of speech, social welfare issues, and self-determination for minority groups.

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                                                                                                  • Dworkin, Ronald. Taking Rights Seriously. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                    A classic work in legal philosophy that rejects legal positivism.

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                                                                                                    • Dworkin, Ronald. “Rights as Trumps.” In Theories of Rights. Edited by J. Waldron. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                      Dworkin claims that rights trump all other moral demands.

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                                                                                                      • Feinberg, J. “The Nature and Value of Rights.” The Journal of Value Inquiry 4 (1970).

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                                                                                                        Introduces a hypothetical world without rights and demonstrates the distinct nature and value of rights.

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                                                                                                        • Kramer, Matthew H., N. E. Simmonds, and Hillel Steiner. A Debate Over Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                          Focuses on the question of whether or not we should treat rights as grounded in interests or choices.

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                                                                                                          • Raz, Joseph. The Morality of Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                            The locus classicus of the interest theory of rights. Raz works within a liberal framework to explore the nature, significance, and justification of political freedom. Raz argues that political morality is neither rights-based, nor equality-based, but is concerned with autonomy.

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                                                                                                            • Steiner, Hillel. An Essay on Rights. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.

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                                                                                                              Gives an account of property rights that Steiner derives from his claim that rights must be conjunctively fulfillable.

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                                                                                                              • Thomson, Judith J. The Realm of Rights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                A thorough investigation into the nature of rights and how to decide which rights claims we should accept.

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                                                                                                                • Waldron, J, ed. Theories of Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                  A helpful selection of key writings on the topic of rights.

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                                                                                                                  Liberty and Libertarianism

                                                                                                                  A central debate about liberty has focused on Berlin 1990’s famous distinction between positive and negative liberty. Carter, et al. 2007 provides a rich collection of writing on liberty, with an emphasis on the historical development of liberty in social and political thought. Miller 2006 provides an excellent selection of work on liberty that captures the main debates in contemporary thought. The widely read text On Liberty (Mill 1989) defends political liberty from a utilitarian perspective. Nozick 1974’s influential statement of right-libertarianism in Anarchy, State and Utopia uses a spartan rights-based morality to defend a minimal state and the free market. Cohen 1995 responds powerfully to Nozick. Van Parijs 1995 argues that real freedom is the freedom not only to be permitted to do something but also to have the means to do that thing: in order to secure real freedom, argues van Parijs, we ought to provide a universal basic income. Like Van Parijs, Otsuka 2003 also describes a version of so-called left-libertarianism, but his version is quite different.

                                                                                                                  • Berlin, Isaiah. “Two Concepts of Liberty.” In Four Essays on Liberty. By Isaiah Berlin, 118–172. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                                    Sets out the famous distinction between positive and negative liberty, which has had a notable influence on debates about value pluralism, the authority of the state, and the relationship between rights and liberty.

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                                                                                                                    • Carter, Ian, M. Kramer, and H. Steiner, eds. Freedom: A Philosophical Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.

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                                                                                                                      A diverse anthology tracing the theoretical origins and development of liberty theory in political philosophy. Includes a balanced selection of work from canonical and contemporary theorists. The anthology also interrogates the relationship between freedom and morality, government power, as well as economic inequality.

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                                                                                                                      • Cohen, G. A. Self-ownership, Freedom, and Equality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511521270E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Widely regarded as the most powerful and thorough response to Nozick 1974’s claims about distributive justice.

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                                                                                                                        • Mill, John S. On Liberty. Edited by S. Collini. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                          Mill’s classical utilitarian defense of political liberty.

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                                                                                                                          • Miller, David. The Liberty Reader. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2006.

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                                                                                                                            Includes a series of diverse critiques and contributions from Hannah Arendt, Charles Taylor, Quentin Skinner, Gerald C. MacCallum, and G. A. Cohen.

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                                                                                                                            • Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Blackwell, 1974.

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                                                                                                                              Claims that no more than a minimal state is justified, and that redistributive interference in the free market is unjust. Nozick’s work has been widely used by political libertarians in their rejection of the welfare state.

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                                                                                                                              • Otsuka, Michael. Libertarianism Without Inequality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/0199243956.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Defends a version of left-libertarianism in which everyone should start their lives with equal resources before being left to make their own choices.

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                                                                                                                                • van Parijs, Philippe. Real Freedom for All. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                  Makes a case for a universal basic income in order to promote “real freedom.”

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                                                                                                                                  Consent

                                                                                                                                  Consent has been an important theme in legal theory and applied ethics, as well as in debate about political authority. Locke 1924 introduces the notion of tacit consent in his “Second Treatise on Government,” which he uses to defend an obligation to obey the law. Simmons 1993 uses Lockean arguments to discuss the limits of consent-based arguments for political obligation. Beyelveld and Brownsword 2007 examines the role of consent in the law. Dworkin 1988 analyzes the notion of informed consent and its relationship to individual autonomy. Feinberg 1986 looks at legal paternalism and the significance of consent in practical ethical issues. Archard 1998 and Wertheimer 2003 discuss the morality of consent in the context of its role in sexual relations. Hyams 2011 claims that consent is not effective when it is linked to violations of rights.

                                                                                                                                  • Archard, David. Sexual Consent. Oxford: Westview, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                    Looks at consent in the context of sexual relations.

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                                                                                                                                    • Beyleveld, Deryck, and R. Brownsword, eds. Consent in the Law. Oxford: Hart, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                      Analyzes the role of consent in the law and discusses the preconditions for effective consent.

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                                                                                                                                      • Dworkin, Gerald. “Autonomy and Informed Consent.” In The Theory and Practice of Autonomy. By Gerald Dworkin, 100–121. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511625206.008E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Addresses the relationship between informed consent and autonomy, which has also informed debates in applied ethics, particularly medical ethics.

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                                                                                                                                        • Feinberg, Joel. Harm to Self. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                          Includes an autonomy-based account of consent.

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                                                                                                                                          • Hyams, K. “When Consent Doesn’t Work: A Rights-Based Case for Limits to Consent’s Capacity to Legitimise.” Journal of Moral Philosophy 8.1 (2011).

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                                                                                                                                            Argues that consent fails to legitimize when brought about by a violation of rights.

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                                                                                                                                            • Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government. London: Dent and Sons, 1924.

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                                                                                                                                              The second treatise introduces Locke’s claims that a duty to obey the law can be grounded in tacit consent.

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                                                                                                                                              • Simmons, John. On the Edge of Anarchy: Locke, Consent, and the Limits of Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                Provides a Lockean approach to political society.

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                                                                                                                                                • Wertheimer, Alan. Consent to Sexual Relations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511610011E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Considers the role of consent in legitimizing sexual relations.

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                                                                                                                                                  Democracy

                                                                                                                                                  What is democracy and why is it valuable? Christiano 1996 considers foundational issues about democracy. The widely read book Democracy and its Critics (Dahl 1991) defends liberal democracy against a range of criticisms. Held 2006 describes the development of democratic theory from Classical Athens to the present day. Cohen 2009 includes several useful essays on democracy. Gutmann and Thompson 1996 provides an excellent resource for the growing deliberative turn in democratic theory. Pateman 1976 defends a participatory model of democracy. Young 2002 focuses on marginalized groups. Habermas 1996 continues to provide novel approaches for understanding democratic legitimacy from the standpoint of deliberative democracy.

                                                                                                                                                  • Christiano, Thomas. The Rule of the Many: Fundamental Issues in Democratic Theory. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                    Examines foundational issues about democracy.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Cohen, J., ed. Philosophy, Politics, Democracy: Selected Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                      Contains several useful papers on democracy.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Dahl, Robert. Democracy and its Critics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                        In his popular book, Dahl examines the main assumptions of democratic theory and defends them against contemporary critics.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis Thompson. Democracy and Disagreement. London: Belknap, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                          An authority on deliberative democracy.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Habermas, Jurgen. “Three Normative Models of Democracy.” In Democracy and Difference. Contesting the Boundaries of the Political. Edited by Seyla Benhabib. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                            A short outline of a proceduralist and discursive model of democracy written in opposition to liberal and republican models.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Held, David. Models of Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                              An accessible historical sketch of the theory and political practice of democracy, for students and researchers. The author concludes with a critical discussion of what democracy should mean today.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Pateman, Carole. Participation and Democratic Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                Reviews historical democratic theory and uses sociological data to reject “elitist” democratic theories in favor of a participatory one.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Young, I. M. Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/0198297556.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Focuses on marginalized individuals and groups in democracy.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Multicultural Citizenship

                                                                                                                                                                  Contemporary political theorists have looked at the notion of citizenship in the context of a multicultural world. The collection by Beiner 1995 is an excellent starting point. Benhabib 2004 explores the conflict between universalism and national sovereignty as it relates to immigration, refugees, and political asylum. Callan 1997 emphasizes the importance of preserving liberal democratic values in the presence of multiculturalism while Kukathas 2003 advances a framework for promoting diversity and freedom according to which agents choose to live in separate communities each governed in accordance with their preferred political approach. Walzer 1989 gives a communitarian account of citizenship. Phillips 2007 examines tensions between gender equality, rights, and multicultural citizenship. Kymlicka 1995 argues that liberal democratic citizenship is compatible with minority rights and customs. Barry 2001 examines several legal rulings on multiculturalism and argues that they are inconsistent with distributive justice. Carens 2000 demonstrates some of the deficiencies of Kymlicka’s analysis and emphasizes the importance of context.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Barry, B. Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that many multicultural policies are harmful to justice.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Beiner, Ronald,ed. Theorizing Citizenship. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                      An excellent collection of articles on citizenship with contributions by prominent theorists analyzing how we are to understand citizenship, as well as the connection between citizenship and civil society, identity, difference, and other pertinent themes. A very useful point of reference for graduate students who are doing research in the field.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Benhabib, Seyla. The Rights of Others. Aliens, Residents and Citizens. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511790799E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Explores the conflict between universal concepts of human rights and national sovereignty as they relate to immigrants, refugees, and individuals seeking asylum.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Callan, Eamonn. Creating Citizens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/0198292589.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Examines how the state can foster liberal democratic values through education, while being respectful of cultural and political diversity.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Carens, Joseph. Culture, Citizenship, and Community. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/0198297688.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Addresses the limitations of traditional theories of culture and citizenship. Carens emphasizes the importance of focusing on the actual discourses that take place between different agents in particular contexts and situations.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Kymlicka, Will. Multicultural Citizenship. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Emphasizes the importance of respecting minority and cultural rights within the liberal democratic tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Kukathas, Chandran. The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Provides a contentious analysis of liberalism and its relation to multiculturalism by reiterating the importance of freedom of association and diversity. Kukathas argues that a liberal society should be composed of an archipelago of competing associations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Phillips, Anne. Multiculturalism without Culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Argues that critics of multicultural politics should not be so quick to dismiss multiculturalism as it plays an integral role in the struggle for social equality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Walzer, M. “Citizenship.” In Political Innovation and Conceptual Change. Edited by Terence Ball, James Farr, and Russell Hanson. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    A communitarian perspective on citizenship.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Gender

                                                                                                                                                                                    Feminist perspectives have challenged a series of traditional approaches in political philosophy. MacKinnon 1989 provides a radical critique of the liberal state, demonstrating how social institutions promote gender inequality and patriarchal values. Nussbaum 1999 argues for a gendered approach to social justice as meeting human capabilities and respecting dignity. Okin 1989 emphasizes the failure of modern political theory to extend its analysis of justice to the family institution. Pateman 1989 discusses tensions between gender inequality, democracy, and political theory. Saul 2006 examines the use of gender and race in political theory. Stone 2004 suggests a genealogical analysis of gender that can reconcile coalitional politics with anti-essentialism: a rejection of the claim that there are unifying features that bind women together as a group. Phillips 1998 provides an excellent collection of work on gender inequality, feminism, and political theory. More recently, Shachar 2001 proposes a series of institutional approaches for maintaining individual and cultural autonomy while also protecting the rights of women.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • MacKinnon, Catharine. Toward a Feminist Theory of State. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Provides a feminist analysis of gender inequality and its manifestations in various social and political institutions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Nussbaum, Martha. Sex and Social Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Creates an original account of the place of gender in social justice, from the perspective of her capabilities approach and the need to respect human dignity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Okin, S. Justice, Gender and the Family. New York: Basic Books, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Provides a critique of modern political thought. Okin argues that theories of justice should be applied equally to questions of gender inequality and the family.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pateman, Carole. The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism and Political Theory. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines conflicts between gender inequality, democracy, and political theory.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Phillips, Anne, ed. Feminism and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A very helpful selection of work on gender. The selection of essays written by prominent feminists examines gender as it relates to political philosophy, interests and representation, identities and coalitions, equality, antidiscrimination, and citizenship.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Saul, J. “Gender and Race.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 80 (2006): 119–143.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8349.2006.00140.xE-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines race and gender as conceptual analytical tools, exploring ways in which gender and race can be used to respond to various positions in contemporary political philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Shachar, A. Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women’s Rights. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511490330E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Offers an interdisciplinary perspective for preserving the autonomy of cultural groups while simultaneously protecting the rights of individual members, particularly women, by offering a series of institutional solutions for tackling intra-group rights violations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Stone, A. “Essentialism and Anti-Essentialism in Feminist Philosophy.” Journal of Moral Philosophy 1 (2004): 135–153.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/174046810400100202E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that femininity is based on a genealogy where women acquire and refine existing cultural interpretations of femininity, culminating in overlapping chains of interpretation. Stone argues that a genealogical analysis allows for the reconciliation of anti-essentialism and coalitional politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    International Justice

                                                                                                                                                                                                    A key debate about international justice is whether or not, as cosmopolitans such as Caney 2005 claims, the moral obligations that we owe to those living in other countries are merely extensions of the same obligations that we owe to our compatriots. Against this view, Miller 2007 describes a noncosmopolitan theory of international justice. Caney, et al. 1996 provides a helpful selection of papers on international justice. Another excellent collection is Brooks 2008. Pogge 2002 argues that international inequality is the result of harmful policies pursued by the West. Nussbaum 2000 develops her well-known capabilities approach to entitlements for those living in poverty. Rawls 1999 extends Rawls’s theory of justice to describe new principles of justice for the international domain. Beitz 2009 looks at global justice through the lens of human rights. Scheffler 2003 looks at a range of issues in the modern globalized world and explores the capacity of liberalism to cope with the ethical problems they raise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Beitz, Charles R. The Idea of Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Beitz has been a major contributor to debate about international justice. In this, his most recent book, he looks at international justice through the lens of human rights.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Brooks, Thom, ed. The Global Justice Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        An excellent collection that contains classic articles covering a range of debates within the broadly construed field of international justice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Caney, Simon, D. George, and P. Jones, eds. National Rights, International Obligations. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A very helpful collection of papers on international justice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Caney, Simon. Justice Beyond Borders: A Global Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            A cosmopolitan theory of international obligations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Miller, David. National Responsibility and Global Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199235056.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A major recent book on global justice that presents a powerful alternative to cosmopolitan views about international justice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nussbaum, Martha. Women and Human Development. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Introduces her capabilities approach as grounds for global human development.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Pogge, Thomas. World Poverty and Human Rights. London: Polity, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Argues that Western policies cause harm to those living in poverty, and proposes various remedial measures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Rawls, John. The Law of Peoples. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that peoples would agree, in a version of the original position, to certain principles to regulate the international domain.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Scheffler, Samuel. Boundaries and Allegiances: Problems of Justice and Responsibility in Liberal Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An outstanding collection of essays that explores the capacity of the liberal tradition to cope with challenges of the modern world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Climate Justice

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Climate justice has become an increasingly prominent topic of discussion in contemporary political philosophy. Key questions are: What are the grounds of our duties to the potential victims of climate change, and how should we distribute the burden of climate change mitigation and adaptation? Gardiner 2004 provides an excellent overview of debates within the literature. Three excellent collections on climate justice are Gardiner, et al. 2010, Hayward and Gould 2009, and Vanderheiden 2008b. A very thorough and well-argued treatment of the topic is provided by Vanderheiden 2008a. Shue 1993 distinguishes between what he calls luxury emissions, and subsistence emissions. Singer 2002 advocates for emission permits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Gardiner, S. M. “Ethics and Global Climate Change.” Ethics 114 (2004): 555–600.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/382247E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An excellent overview of the literature on climate justice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Gardiner, Stephen, Simon Caney, and Dale Jamison, eds. Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A very helpful collection of key readings on climate justice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hayward, T., and C. Gould, eds. Special Issue: Global Environment, Climate Change, and Justice. Journal of Social Philosophy 40.2 (2009).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Includes a number of papers on various topics to do with climate justice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Shue, H. “Subsistence Emissions and Luxury Emissions.” Law and Policy 15 (1993): 1.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Defends different distributional principles for subsistence and luxury emissions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Singer, Peter. “One Atmosphere.” In One World. By Peter Singer. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Defends a global system of emission permits.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Vanderheiden, Steve. Atmospheric Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008a.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334609.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A thorough examination of the ethics of climate change, including an excellent discussion of group and individual responsibility.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Vanderheiden, Steve, ed. Political Theory and Climate Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008b.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A rich selection of papers written on climate change by leading thinkers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    War and Intervention

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When is it acceptable to go to war and how should wars be fought? Hurka 2005 examines the concept of proportionality as it relates to the theory of just war. Lackey 1989 discusses the morality of specific military interventions. McMahan 2009 repudiates traditional justifications for participating in unjust wars. Teichman 1986 defines and assesses both just war theory and pacifism. Walzer 2000 provides a classic articulation of just war theory, demonstrating the preconditions for engaging in war and military conduct during war. Rodin 2002 rejects a central tenet of just war theory that states can go to war to protect themselves. The excellent collection by Shue and Rodin 2007 contains lively exchanges on several aspects of intervention and war. Ignatieff 2004 looks specifically at responses to terrorism. Wheeler 2000 focuses on the project of legitimate humanitarian intervention by examining actual cases of humanitarian intervention, as well as some of their more recent shortcomings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hurka, T. “Proportionality in the Morality of War.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2005): 34–66.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1088-4963.2005.00024.xE-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Examines the notion of proportionality as it relates to the just-war tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ignatieff, Michael. The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A widely cited, though by no means uncontroversial book, which focuses on legitimate responses to terrorism by liberal democracies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lackey, Douglas. The Ethics of War and Peace. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Discusses the ethics of actual military interventions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • McMahan, Jeff. Killing in War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199548668.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            McMahan questions and refutes traditional justifications for killing people in war, especially in circumstances where soldiers participate in an unjust war and claim innocence by blaming the state.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Rodin, David. War and Self-Defense. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/0199257744.001.0001E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rejects the claim, central to just war theory, that national self-defense provides grounds for war.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Shue, Henry, and D. Rodin. Preemption: Military Action and Moral Justification. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A lively collection of exchanges looking at the morality of preemptive war and intervention from various angles. It is written against the backdrop of the American-led preemptive war in Iraq.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Teichman, Jenny. Pacifism and the Just War. Oxford: Blackwell, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Provides a systematic interpretation and evaluation of pacifism and the theory of just war.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. 3d ed. New York: Basic Books, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The classic discussion of just-war theory. Walzer evaluates the ethical issues concerning military intervention, war crimes, and the consequences of war, with reference to historical events.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Wheeler, N. Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Examines the major normative shift that has taken place in international humanitarian interventions since the 1990s by emphasizing the more contemporary notion of legitimate grounds for humanitarian intervention, as well as stressing some of its practical limitations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Animal Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Probably the most influential book on animal rights ever written, credited by some with launching the animal rights movement, is Animal Liberation (Singer 1975). Both Regan 1985 and Franklin 2005 adopt a Kantian approach to animal rights. Cohen and Regan 2001 features debates about animal rights between the two authors: one for, the other against. DeGrazia 1996 provides an excellent engagement with questions about the mental and moral status of animals. Hill 2005 examines all the main arguments for animal rights. Jamieson 2002 argues that our moral thinking has expanded to take in more and more beings, now including animals. Sunstein and Nussbaum 2005 is an excellent collection of articles at the cutting edge of current thinking about animal rights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cohen, Carl, and T. Regan. The Animal Rights Debate. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cohen and Regan represent opposing positions in the animal rights debate and critically engage with one another on the question of whether animals have rights.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • DeGrazia, David. Taking Animals Seriously. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An involved examination of issues in ethics and philosophy of mind that assesses the mental and moral status of animals.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Franklin, Julian. Animal Rights and Moral Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Critically evaluates the philosophical foundations of utilitarian, rights-based, and ecofeminist approaches to animals. Franklin argues instead for an extension of Kant’s categorical imperative to include all sentient beings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hill, A. Do Animals Have Rights? Cambridge, UK: Icon, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Includes a very helpful critical review of the main arguments for animal rights.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Jamieson, Dale. Morality’s Progress. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Argues that the circle of our moral thinking has expanded to the point where it now includes animals.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Regan, Tom. The Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A well-argued defense of animal rights with responses to numerous objections.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: New York Review, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A utilitarian defense of animal liberation with several chapters uncovering the abuses animals are subject to. Credited by some with launching the animal-rights movement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Sunstein, Cass, and M. Nussbaum, eds. Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An excellent collection by leading authors that looks at moral, legal, and political issues underlying positions for and against animal rights.

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