Niccolò Machiavelli – Discourses on Livy

There is an old debate among political theorists regarding the meaning of Machiavelli’s political works. A careless reading of The Prince and Discourses on Livy give the impression they are written by two entirely different authors. Or perhaps it is the same person in two different points of their life with entirely different notions of... Continue Reading →

Chantal Mouffe – The Democratic Paradox

A paradox is distinct from a contradiction. Sometimes the two ideas are confused. They are used interchangeably in ways which remove the impact of the concept of paradox. It is true ‘paradox’ feels a bit more exotic than the more pedantic ‘contradiction.’ But this is no reason to distort its meaning. A contradiction is where... Continue Reading →

Robert Dahl – Polyarchy

The United States faces a crisis of political identity. Many have found purpose in a redefinition of the American political constitution as a democracy. Indeed, the United States has gone beyond its borders to promote democracy around the world. But there is an internal tension among its citizens as to whether the United States embodies... Continue Reading →

John Rawls – A Theory of Justice

As the Economists’ Hour has come to an end, the philosophy of Rawls offers a tempting philosophy to guide public policy. Rawls wrote A Theory of Justice before the emergence of neoliberalism, but his ideas anticipate its arrival. The aim of his theory is to offer an alternative to utilitarian or consequentialist philosophy. Utilitarianism is... Continue Reading →

Chantal Mouffe – The Return of the Political

The final chapter of the political science classic, Political Man, was titled “The End of Ideology?” He refers to a conference in 1955 called “The Future of Freedom.” It assembled political thinkers from a diverse range of viewpoints. It included conservatives, socialists and liberals, but there was little political debate. There “was general agreement among... Continue Reading →

A. C. Grayling – The Good State

The line between political science and philosophy is not always clear. Sometimes I find I pretend I am a political philosopher, while other times I imagine I am a political scientist. Political theory is perhaps a delicate balance between the two. And yet there are some who focus more on philosophy and others who rely... Continue Reading →

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