Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy

Paperback (Print)
Rent
Rent from BN.com
$11.64
(Save 54%)
Est. Return Date: 06/16/2014
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$18.36
(Save 28%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $16.15
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 36%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (14) from $16.15   
  • New (7) from $24.21   
  • Used (7) from $16.15   

Overview

This last book by the late John Rawls, derived from written lectures and notes for his long-running course on modern political philosophy, offers readers an account of the liberal political tradition from a scholar viewed by many as the greatest contemporary exponent of the philosophy behind that tradition.

Rawls's goal in the lectures was, he wrote, "to identify the more central features of liberalism as expressing a political conception of justice when liberalism is viewed from within the tradition of democratic constitutionalism." He does this by looking at several strands that make up the liberal and democratic constitutional traditions, and at the historical figures who best represent these strands—among them the contractarians Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; the utilitarians Hume, Sidgwick, and J. S. Mill; and Marx regarded as a critic of liberalism. Rawls's lectures on Bishop Joseph Butler also are included in an appendix. Constantly revised and refined over three decades, Rawls's lectures on these figures reflect his developing and changing views on the history of liberalism and democracy—as well as how he saw his own work in relation to those traditions.

With its clear and careful analyses of the doctrine of the social contract, utilitarianism, and socialism—and of their most influential proponents—this volume has a critical place in the traditions it expounds. Marked by Rawls's characteristic patience and curiosity, and scrupulously edited by his student and teaching assistant, Samuel Freeman, these lectures are a fitting final addition to his oeuvre, and to the history of political philosophy as well.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Times Higher Education Supplement

Rawls was a dedicated and remarkably winning teacher, deeply admired by generations of grateful Harvard University pupils. Reading Lectures you can see why. The tone throughout is unassuming but assured, the purpose consistently to make clear, to get into steady common view what he took to be the key issues in the grand texts that he chose to explore. There is something soothing and encouraging about being guided through the works of Hobbes and Locke, Hume and J. S. Mill, Henry Sidgwick and Bishop Butler—and even Karl Marx—in these calm and measured tones...There is much quiet pleasure to be drawn from these pages, as well as a great deal of instruction about the terms in which Rawls came to frame his own ethical conceptions and the secular liberalism he believed them to imply. Anyone seriously interested in the development of Rawls's thinking and his sense of the relations between his approach and those of major predecessors in the history of Anglophone liberalism will find the insight it provides on numerous points indispensable.
— John Dunn

New York Sun

While many contemporary philosophers have deliberately shunned the history of political philosophy as irrelevant to "doing" philosophy, Rawls shows himself to be a conscientious and painstaking reader of the great works of the philosophical tradition of which he was a part. He regarded his own work as both indebted to and as culminating the great tradition that he interprets for his readers.
— Steven B. Smith

Choice

John Rawls is perhaps the most influential Western political philosopher of the twentieth century. The late Harvard philosopher's 1971 A Theory of Justice is often credited with bestowing that title upon him. In that book he drew on the works of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, among others, to criticize utilitarian theory and defend an egalitarian version of political liberalism. This volume draws together his Harvard lectures on political philosophy and liberalism, providing his insights and interpretations of Locke and Kant, as well as Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and others. In these lectures Rawls reveals how he interpreted these philosophers both in light of their historical circumstances and problems they were trying to address, and also in light of contemporary political debates.
— D. Schultz

The New Republic

A definitive and magnificent version of Rawls's teachings on the history of political philosophy...The distinction between the rational and the reasonable runs through these lectures, and through all of Rawls's writings. Its importance signals one essential task that political philosophy should assume even in a democratic age: democracies cannot long endure, however high-sounding the principles they profess, unless their citizens learn to love and to practice the civic virtues of fairness and open discussion that alone can make these principles a reality...Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy shows us a Rawls keenly aware of the historical underpinnings of his own theoretical constructions...His Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy complement more systematic works such as A Theory of Justice. They make plain how the careful analysis of the insights and the limitations of his predecessors helped him to fashion many of the elements of his own political thought...Rawls's writing is at its most powerful when he thus casts aside his contractual scaffolding and speaks directly to our political conscience. Then he impels us to see more clearly than before the moral substance of the democratic ideal. He shows us in an exemplary way how philosophy can be democratic.
— Charles Larmore

Journal of the History of Philosophy

Rawls has an enormously authoritative and interesting way of thinking and writing about the history of philosophy. His approach and tone is that of a world-class athlete watching old films to analyze the technique of his great predecessors. It is a pleasure to listen in.
— Matthew Simpson

Library Journal

After the publication of A Theory of Justicein 1971, Rawls (1921–2002) became the most influential moral and political philosopher in the Western world. As such, the issuing of this posthumous volume, carefully edited by Freeman (philosophy & law, Univ. of Pennsylvania), a former student and teaching assistant from Rawls's courses at Harvard University, is a major event. Rawls discusses Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, J.S. Mill, and Karl Marx (appendixes treat Henry Sidgwick and Joseph Butler as well). He is especially concerned with how each thinker views the fair terms of social cooperation. He distinguishes between being rational (i.e., efficient in pursuit of one's ends) and being reasonable (i.e., willing to cooperate on fair terms with others)—Hobbes did not make this distinction, but it is useful in explaining Locke and Rousseau. Rawls finds in Rousseau the notion of public reason, the key concept of his Political Liberalism. He devotes much attention to the utilitarian tradition, the principal rival of his own approach. An unexpected feature is a sympathetic discussion of Marx. Highly recommended for all philosophy collections.
—David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., OH

Times Higher Education Supplement - John Dunn
Rawls was a dedicated and remarkably winning teacher, deeply admired by generations of grateful Harvard University pupils. Reading Lectures you can see why. The tone throughout is unassuming but assured, the purpose consistently to make clear, to get into steady common view what he took to be the key issues in the grand texts that he chose to explore. There is something soothing and encouraging about being guided through the works of Hobbes and Locke, Hume and J. S. Mill, Henry Sidgwick and Bishop Butler--and even Karl Marx--in these calm and measured tones...There is much quiet pleasure to be drawn from these pages, as well as a great deal of instruction about the terms in which Rawls came to frame his own ethical conceptions and the secular liberalism he believed them to imply. Anyone seriously interested in the development of Rawls's thinking and his sense of the relations between his approach and those of major predecessors in the history of Anglophone liberalism will find the insight it provides on numerous points indispensable.
New York Sun - Steven B. Smith
While many contemporary philosophers have deliberately shunned the history of political philosophy as irrelevant to "doing" philosophy, Rawls shows himself to be a conscientious and painstaking reader of the great works of the philosophical tradition of which he was a part. He regarded his own work as both indebted to and as culminating the great tradition that he interprets for his readers.
Choice - D. Schultz
John Rawls is perhaps the most influential Western political philosopher of the twentieth century. The late Harvard philosopher's 1971 A Theory of Justice is often credited with bestowing that title upon him. In that book he drew on the works of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, among others, to criticize utilitarian theory and defend an egalitarian version of political liberalism. This volume draws together his Harvard lectures on political philosophy and liberalism, providing his insights and interpretations of Locke and Kant, as well as Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and others. In these lectures Rawls reveals how he interpreted these philosophers both in light of their historical circumstances and problems they were trying to address, and also in light of contemporary political debates.
The New Republic - Charles Larmore
A definitive and magnificent version of Rawls's teachings on the history of political philosophy...The distinction between the rational and the reasonable runs through these lectures, and through all of Rawls's writings. Its importance signals one essential task that political philosophy should assume even in a democratic age: democracies cannot long endure, however high-sounding the principles they profess, unless their citizens learn to love and to practice the civic virtues of fairness and open discussion that alone can make these principles a reality...Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy shows us a Rawls keenly aware of the historical underpinnings of his own theoretical constructions...His Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy complement more systematic works such as A Theory of Justice. They make plain how the careful analysis of the insights and the limitations of his predecessors helped him to fashion many of the elements of his own political thought...Rawls's writing is at its most powerful when he thus casts aside his contractual scaffolding and speaks directly to our political conscience. Then he impels us to see more clearly than before the moral substance of the democratic ideal. He shows us in an exemplary way how philosophy can be democratic.
Journal of the History of Philosophy - Matthew Simpson
Rawls has an enormously authoritative and interesting way of thinking and writing about the history of philosophy. His approach and tone is that of a world-class athlete watching old films to analyze the technique of his great predecessors. It is a pleasure to listen in.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674030633
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2008
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 720,343
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal.

Samuel Freeman is Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Pennsylvania.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Editor's Foreword

Introductory Remarks

Texts Cited

Introduction: Remarks on Political Philosophy

Lectures on Hobbes

Lecture I: Hobbes's Secular Moralism and the Role of His Social Contract

Lecture II: Human Nature and the State of Nature

Lecture III: Hobbes's Account of Practical Reasoning

Lecture IV: The Role and Powers of the Sovereign

Appendix: Hobbes Index

Lectures on Locke

Lecture I: His Doctrine of Natural Law

Lecture II: His Account of a Legitimate Regime

Lecture III: Property and the Class State

Lectures on Hume

Lecture I: "Of the Original Contract"

Lecture II: Utility, Justice, and the Judicious Spectator

Lectures on Rousseau

Lecture I: The Social Contract: Its Problem

Lecture II: The Social Contract: Assumptions and the General Will (I)

Lecture III: The General Will (II) and the Question of Stability

Lectures on Mill

Lecture I: His Conception of Utility

Lecture II: His Account of Justice

Lecture III: The Principle of Liberty

Lecture IV: His Doctrine as a Whole

Appendix: Remarks on Mill's Social Theory

Lectures on Marx

Lecture I: His View of Capitalism as a Social System

Lecture II: His Conception of Right and Justice

Lecture III: His Ideal: A Society of Freely Associated Producers

APPENDIXES

Four Lectures on Henry Sidgwick

Lecture I: Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics

Lecture II: Sidgwick on Justice and on the Classical Principle of Utility

Lecture III: Sidgwick's Utilitarianism

Lecture IV: Summary of Utilitarianism

Five Lectures on Joseph Butler

Lecture I: The Moral Constitution of Human Nature

Lecture II: The Nature and Authority of Conscience

Lecture III: The Economy of the Passions

Lecture IV: Butler's Argument against Egoism

Lecture V: Supposed Conflict between Conscience and Self-Love

Appendix: Additional Notes on Butler

Course Outline

Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)