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Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction [Paperback]

David Miller
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 18, 2003 0192803956 978-0192803955 0
This Very Short Introduction introduces readers to the key concepts of political philosophy: authority, democracy, freedom and its limits, justice, feminism, multiculturalism, and nationality. Accessibly written and assuming no previous knowledge of the subject, it encourages the reader to think clearly and critically about the leading political questions of our time.

Miller first investigates how political philosophy tackles basic ethical questions such as 'how should we live together in society?' He furthermore looks at political authority, discusses the reasons society needs politics in the first place, explores the limitations of politics, and asks if there are areas of life that shouldn't be governed by politics. Moreover, he explores the connections between political authority and justice, a constant theme in political philosophy, and the ways in which social justice can be used to regulate rather than destroy a market economy.

In his travels through this realm, Miller covers why nations are the natural units of government and wonders if the rise of multiculturalism and transnational co-operation will change all this, and asks in the end if we will ever see the formation of a world government.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Miller is Professor of Political Theory, University of Oxford, and an Official Fellow of Nuffield College. In 2002 he was elected to a Fellowship of the British Academy.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192803956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192803955
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good summary of western political philosophy February 1, 2008
By Luke G
I have to disagree with the other reviewer. Overall this is a pretty objective overview of mainstream political philosophy covering Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, social contract theory, justice, liberty, freedom, feminism, Marx and so on. Miller's method of asking childish, almost infantile, questions about the possibility of modern democracy, global justice, and freedom opens up some very interesting avenues of inquiry (childish questions are the mark of a true philosopher). Additionally Miller's emphasis on modern-day human rights, multiculturalism and social justice work to give this introduction a needed humanist perspective against the often canonistic regurgitation of detached text-book philosophy which one often finds in broad introductory texts of this kind. I recommend this introduction for those just starting philosophy or politics and want an interesting overview of Western political philosophy. If you truly want to see a politically bias Short Introduction (as a point of comparison) try reading Kenneth Minoque's Politics: A Very Short Introduction. He pretty much adheres to a dogmatically neoliberal position throughout the books 112 pages.

"But do nations really exist? Or are they not just imagined but entirely imaginary? Is there anything that genuinely differentiates the people who live on one side of the national boundary from their counterparts on the other side? Dean Inge once said that 'a nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by a common hatred of its neighbours'. Like most good quotations, this one contains more than a grain of truth."

- Miller on Nation states p.114
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35 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ... January 12, 2004
By sasha_
My review of this book will be very short: It should be titled "David Miller's Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction". I bought the book expecting to be introduced to political philosophy, but I find that I have learned more about Miller's opinions (however mainstream) than political philosophy itself. It's like trying to learn from a salesman rather than a teacher--you will learn something, but it's still annoying. The caliber of the Very Short Introduction series is generally higher.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Primer May 12, 2011
By mg1015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Had to buy this for a political theory class. It's well written and presents basic concepts of political philosophy in accessible ways. I found it to be a very helpful accompaniment as we read the philosophers themselves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what you think it is January 26, 2014
By Jerry
This was an interesting book on political philosophy. But it wasn't what I wanted.

Most of the books in this series give an overview of the great thinkers in the subject and the developments that caused the evolution of their thinking. This book, in contrast, goes through the various aspects of political philosophy and gives David Miller's views on them, with some reference to the great historical thinkers thrown in. In this sense it is like taking Political Philosophy 101 with David Miller, a tenured professor who can teach whatever he pleases. It is not a brief guide to the history of the development of political philosophy. There is more page space given to Miller's views than Locke, Mill, Hobbes, or any of the other usual suspects. No other book in this series has the words "I believe" used quite so often.

Now, this may be exactly what you are looking for. I disliked it because, frankly, I have no idea who Miller is and why I should believe his opinions. And some of the things he states as if they were fact are actually opinions not universally held, even among political philosophers, and especially in countries less liberal than some of the Western European ones (for example, many educated citizens of my country--the United States--would strongly disagree with his personal gloss on Justice, which, as he admits, is further left than what is practiced in any of the Liberal democracies.) Again, this might be exactly what you are looking for, just be warned.

I bought this book because I recently found a renewed interest in John Dewey's take on political philosophy. Dewey is fairly idiosyncratic and I hoped to place him within the conversation that academic philosophy is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars BOOK April 28, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful publication.
A very valuable addition to my research library.
Very informative and easy reading.
Extremely pleased with this purchase.
Highly recommend to others.
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