The Moral Foundations of Politics [NOOK Book]

Overview

When do governments merit our allegiance, and when should they be denied it? Ian Shapiro investigates this most enduring of political dilemmas in this innovative and engaging book.

Shapiro discusses the different answers that have been proposed by the major political theorists in the utilitarian, Marxist, and social contract traditions over the past four centuries. Showing how these political philosophies have all been decisively shaped by the...
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The Moral Foundations of Politics

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Overview

When do governments merit our allegiance, and when should they be denied it? Ian Shapiro investigates this most enduring of political dilemmas in this innovative and engaging book.

Shapiro discusses the different answers that have been proposed by the major political theorists in the utilitarian, Marxist, and social contract traditions over the past four centuries. Showing how these political philosophies have all been decisively shaped by the core values of the Enlightenment, he demonstrates that each one contains useful insights that survive their failures as comprehensive doctrines and that should inform our thinking about political legitimacy. Shapiro then turns to the democratic tradition. Exploring the main arguments for and against democracy from Plato’s time until our own, he argues that democracy offers the best resources for realizing the Enlightenment’s promise and managing its internal tensions. As such, democracy supplies the most attractive available basis for political legitimacy.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a rigorous and insightful reconsideration of the theories of political legitimacy underpinning the utilitarian, Marxist, social contract, anti-Enlightenment, and democratic traditions, from one of the foremost democratic theorists in America today. Shapiro conveys the reader through a maze of complex moral, economic and political argument surrounding this topic with impressive skill and enviable clarity. It will be of substantial interest to students of moral philosophy as well as political theory, and should reach a broader audience concerned with how to think about the moral dilemmas implicit in contemporary democratic theory and practice."—Shannon Stimson, UC Berkeley

“A deeply valuable book at many levels. Students will find a synoptic, clear overview with an argument to supplement their own courses; faculty can secretly get back up to speed on philosophers they should remember better; specialists will be impelled to put ‘their guy’ into a more comprehensive framework than usual. Shapiro shows an almost unique ability to combine the broad sweep with the telling detail or precise insight—just what a book of this sort needs.”—Jennifer Hochschild, Harvard University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ian Shapiro is William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor and chairman of the department of political science at Yale University. Among his books are Democratic Justice and, with Donald Green, Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory, both published by Yale University Press.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Introduction 1
Chapter 1 Enlightenment Politics 7
Chapter 2 Classical Utilitarianism 18
Chapter 3 Synthesizing Rights and Utility 37
Chapter 4 Marxism 71
Chapter 5 The Social Contract 109
Chapter 6 Anti-Enlightenment Politics 151
Chapter 7 Democracy 190
Chapter 8 Democracy in the Mature Enlightenment 224
Notes 231
Index 267
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2002

    The most enlightening book I have read.

    Professor Shapiro shows all the intriguing twists and turns of different philosophical traditions. More than being a useful survey of these traditions have been crucial in shaping our society, the book is by itself an enlightening work of philosophy. In addition, the lucid and elegant prose coupled with humourous hypotheticals make this book a healing pleasure whenever you need it.

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