Contemporary Political Philosophy

What the story with Contemporary Political Philosophy? Who are the major players? Whose winning the battle? What are people arguing about?

"What the story with Contemporary Political Philosophy?"

It´s basically all about Rawls and his A Theory of Justice
. Pretty much all political philosophers are somehow responding to that theory. An exception are the Straussians, but they are of lttle academic importance.

"Who are the major players?"

Amartya Sen, Richard Arneson, Derek Parfit, Ronald Dworkin, John Roemer, Thomas Scanlon, Gerald Allen Cohen, Michael Walzer, Elizabeth Anderson, Martha Nussbaum, Phillippe Van Parijs... are some major players.

"Whose winning the battle?"

That´s a matter pf perspective. I believe that the liberal camp will ´kick communitarian ass.

"What are people arguing about?""

Distributive justice.

I just read some reviews on Rawls TOJ. In no where did it seem to mention how people are structured by society ...I was expecting to see something like that. Some Structuralism thrown in there, I almost can't take seriously anything that doesn't account for that.

Ha. nevermind, apparently the role of "self" is huge in the debate between liberals and communitarians.

Is it safe to say that libertarianism has been blown out of the water, or inleast the ship is sinking? Even Nozick gave in some at the end.

Are there any philosophers out there against democracy. maybe along the lines of the average person is too ignorant to vote?

"It´s basically all about Rawls and his A Theory of Justice . Pretty much all political philosophers are somehow responding to that theory. An exception are the Straussians, but they are of lttle academic importance."

i take exception to the straussian remark. i think they've had a pretty big influence on contemporary political philosophy. i'm a grad student in political philosophy and the influence of strauss and the straussian school is hard to deny (although i am NOT a straussian). i also disagree with the remark regarding rawls. i definitely think its had an impact, but not everything is revolving around it as suggested.

"i definitely think its had an impact, but not everything is revolving around it as suggested. "

since he was the first  to create a coherent moral theory, to replace utilitarianism, everyone today uses his work as a background to compare their theories and counterarguments, in one way or another.

 

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I am reading it right now and it´s very good. It will answer all your above questions and alot more.

"i definitely think its had an impact, but not everything is revolving around it as suggested."

Maybe I should clarify, he set the agenda for what political philosophers discuss and most contemporary political philosophy grew out of the discussion around him.

On the Straussians: You are probably right. I´m not that familiar with the academic scene in the US.

"Ha. nevermind, apparently the role of "self" is huge in the debate between liberals and communitarians."

You may want to read Parfit. He is very big on wha the "self" is and how it relates to political philosophy.

"On the Straussians: You are probably right. I´m not that familiar with the academic scene in the US."

where are you at? i think its interesting to note the differences in european philosophy and what is studied in the states. unfortunately, i think american culture is anti-intellectual and there is a considerable void in influential american philosophers. just look at the disproportionate amount of influential philosophers coming out of germany and france over the past few centuries. its disappointing to me that american political science has been converted to quasi-positivism while ignoring political theory and the roots of the discipline. i do enjoy reading the critiques though of it (see Voegelin's New Science of Politics).

I´m in Austria (Univ of Vienna). I think there´s maybe a little bit too much intellectualism in France. ;-) I think the US have a great analytic tradition, brought by philosophers forced to migrate when Hitler came to power. So I see the European roots of much American philosophy and of course no analytic philosopher can ignore what comes out of the field from the US. So I don´t think the distinction is that strong.

Rational choice theory and quantitative methods are of course much more popular in the US. While there is certainly often a lack of consciousness about history and broader concepts, I´m not sure it´s better in Europe. While what is taught in pol sci here in Vienna doesn´t suffer from the problems mentioned, it lacks structure and solid foundations. I think the US approach should be broadened but not be replaced.

"Who are the major players? Whose winning the battle? What are people arguing about?"

What is it that makes you a major player in this specific field? It seems that you are either a no-one or you have arrived and people know you. Why is justice the issue people are talking about? I would think there would be loads of people writing about a new political structure or form of government...

Many of these players know each other from conferences and stuff. I would say you are a major player if other major players write about you. It probably helps to know people working in the fiel, but you can establish recognition by your publications. If you publish, say, in Philosophy of Public Affairs people in the field will see your work. How they react is up to them.

"Why is justice the issue people are talking about?"

Political philosophy was out of fashion for quite some time. They though one cannot really say much rational about it. Then cam Rawls and proved them wrong which led many people to work in the area Rawls worked: distributive justice..

I would think there would be loads of people writing about a new political structure or form of government...

"I would think there would be loads of people writing about a new political structure or form of government..."

Yes, but usually not in the philosophy area. It's more something for poli sci, economics, social choice etc. These areas connect with philosophy but are no main part.

Uhhhh, anyone heard of Hannah Arendt?

I´m not sure that counts as contemporary.

"I´m not sure that counts as contemporary."

Political philosophy is a very old subject. Anything after Marx is pretty contemporary. Her major work on totalitarianism was written in 1951. She was alive until 1975. And arguably alot more pertinent to today than Mr. Rawls. Anarchy, State, and Utopia is only 20 yrs older.

I meant contemporary as in "what philosophers argue about today". Wether Arendt is more importan than Rawls is another discussion. But while I think that Toqueville is very relevant, I don´t think anyone would call him cntemporary.

i tend to agree with hekster, especially within the U.S. Arendt, Strauss, and Voegelin are very much in the discussions of "contemporary" political theory. my readings/studies have definitely not been centered around Rawls as "the" contemporary thinker. it is interesting to see the differing views/lines of study though.

what are you going to school for dnwsr? I did IR and
political theory.

"what are you going to school for dnwsr?"

political theory is my primary field. i've got american as my second field (for job marketability purposes). as far as the other fields though, i think IR is probably my favorite. i definitely know i'm in the right primary field though. i've really been enjoying the classes so far. we'll see if i still think that when comps roll around in a few years, lol.