An Introduction to Political Philosophy

By Jonathan Wolff

Rating: 4 stars

I read parts of this book a few years ago for a political philosophy course I was doing at the time and found it very lucid and easy to read. When I later found it going cheap(ish) in a second hand bookshop I nabbed it without hesitation, even though the course was long finished. I’m a politics geek in any event, but I had never seriously considered the philosophy underpinning it before that course, and in this book, Wolff goes through that philosophy step by step.

He starts by suggesting that we shouldn’t take the idea of the state for granted and imagines a world without one (the ‘state of nature’) before going on to introduce the state and justifications for the idea of one person having political power over another, the types of state (who should wield such political power), with particular focus on the philosophical underpinnings of democracy and then discusses liberty and the distribution of property before a final chapter on individualism, justice and feminism.

It’s all clearly written and all the major thinkers on the subject are introduced, along with a large ‘further reading’ section at the end. I definitely found it a very interesting read, although the sections on individualism and justice were somewhat hard going. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone interested in politics and the theories of government.

Book details

ISBN: 9780199296095
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Year of publication: 2012

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