In this lively and entertaining book, Terence Ball maintains that 'classic' works in political theory continue to speak to us only if they are periodically re-read and reinterpreted from alternative perspectives. That, the author contends, is how these works became classics, and why they are regarded as such. Ball suggests a way of reading that is both 'pluralist' and 'problem-driven'--pluralist in that there is no one right way to read a text, and problem-driven in that the reinterpretation is motivated by (...) problems that emerge while reading these texts. In addition, the subsequent readings and interpretations become more and more suffused with the interpretations of others. This tour de force, always entertaining and eclectic, focuses on the core problems surrounding many of the major thinkers. Was Machiavelli really amoral? Why did language matter so much to Hobbes--and why should it matter to us? Are the roots of the totalitarian state to be found in Rousseau? Were the utilitarians sexist in their view of the franchise? The author's aim is to show how a pluralist and problem-centered approach can shed new light on old and recent works in political theory, and on the controversies that continue over their meaning and significance. Written in a lively and accessible style, the book will provoke debate among students and scholars alike. (shrink)
Contemporary theories of justice fail to recognize that the concepts constitutive of our political practices ? including ?justice? itself? have historically mutable meanings. To recognize the fact of conceptual change entails an alteration in our understanding of justice between generations. Because there can be no transhistorical theory of justice, there can be no valid theory of intergenerational justice either ? especially where the generations in question are distant ones having very different understandings of justice. The upshot is that an earlier (...) generation cannot aspire to act justly toward a later distant generation whose members? understanding of justice differs radically from theirs. Conceptual change and incommensurability render the very idea of intergenerational justice incoherent. Even so, such radical relativism need not entail moral nihilism. (shrink)
This major work of academic reference provides a comprehensive overview of the development of political thought from the late nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century. Written by a distinguished team of international contributors, this Cambridge History, first published in 2003, covers the rise of the welfare state and subsequent reactions to it, the fascist and communist critiques of and attempted alternatives to liberal democracy, the novel forms of political organisation occasioned by the rise of a mass electorate and (...) new social movements, the various intellectual traditions from positivism to post-modernism that have shaped the study of politics, the interaction between western and non-western traditions of political thought, and the challenge posed to the state by globalisation. Every major theme in twentieth-century political thought is covered in a series of chapters at once scholarly and accessible, of interest and relevance to students and scholars of politics at all levels from beginning undergraduate upwards. (shrink)
Although best known as a philosopher and political theorist, John Stuart Mill made important contributions to psychology as well. In this he followed his father, James Mill, whose two‐volume Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind (1829) relied upon and updated the “associationist” research program initiated by John Locke and further developed by Dr. David Hartley and David Hume, among others. The Mills pere et fils shared an abiding interest in how human character is formed (and too often deformed) (...) along associationist lines. The elder Mill couched this in “educational” terms, and his son in “ethological” ones. J.S. Mill's new science of Ethology, or character‐formation differed in important respects from his father's theory. The most significant of these was that James Mill held that an individual can play no part in the formation of his own character, while his son disagreed vehemently. Here I trace the sources and implications of this disagreement. (shrink)
_ Ideals and Ideologies: A Reader_, 9/e, is a comprehensive compilation of original readings representing all of the major 'isms'.It offers students a generous sampling of key thinkers in different ideological traditions and places them in their historical and political contexts. Used on its own or with _Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal_, the title accounts for the different ways people use ideology and conveys the ongoing importance of ideas in politics.
Idioms of Inquiry reflects the most recent and creative thinking in the field of political theory. The contributors agree that the old orthodox political theory is no longer viable, arguing instead for a pluralism of approaches. Each takes a particular idiom of inquiry on its own terms and analyzes its plausibility and internal limitations. The idioms discussed cover the current leading theories: rational choice, Popperian situational analysis, hermeneutics, phenomenology, critical theory, feminism, Foucauldian deconstructionism, and metascientific realism.
Set primarily in Paris and Oxford, this fast-paced mystery novel links a long-missing manuscript from a famous eighteenth-century philosopher with a dark secret to a late twentieth-century murder of a prominent Princeton professor.
The too-often unhappy 'marriage' of political theory and political science has long been a source of anguish for both partners. Should this troubled partnership be dissolved? Or might this marriage yet be saved? Ball answers the former question negatively and the latter affirmatively. Playing the part of therapist instead of theorist, he selectively recounts a number of episodes which estranged the partners and strained the marriage. And yet, he concludes that the conflicts were in hindsight more constructive than destructive, benefiting (...) both partners in heretofore unexpected ways and perhaps paving a path toward reconciliation and rapprochement. (shrink)
Some sociological theories yield self-subverting or 'dangerous' knowledge. The functionalist theory of social deviance provides a case in point. The theory, first formulated by Durkheim, maintains that ostensibly anti-social deviants perform a number of socially indispensable functions. But what would happen if everyone knew this? They would cease to regard deviants as malefactors and would indeed come to esteem them as public benefactors. In that case, however, deviants could no longer perform their proper function. If they are to play the (...) part assigned to them by the theory, most people must remain unaware of their 'true' role in the drama of social life. This gives rise to the paradox of dangerous knowledge: The theory can be true only if its truths are not widely known; widespread ignorance is the precondition of its truth. But then, if its truths must not be publicly known, the theory is a piece of esoterica, not of science. I conclude by considering, and rejecting, several possible solutions to the 'dangerous knowledge' paradox. (shrink)