- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Polity; 2 edition (August 4, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0745635326
- ISBN-13: 978-0745635323
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,306,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Political Philosophy: A Beginners' Guide for Students and Politicians 2nd Edition
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"An obviously well thought out and researched book, providing an excellent touchstone for those coming to political philosophy for the first time."
Australian Journal of Political Science
"Political Philosophy is enthusiastically recommended not just for students, but for anyone seeking to prepare themselves to cast a well-informed vote in elections."
Midwest Book Review
"A triumph of a book that illuminates the last two decades of politics and points the way to the next ... How does philosophy affect politics? Through books like this."
James Purnell MP
"Adam Swift's introduction to politial philosophy is clear-headed, fair-minded and fluently written. It will be of great value to students and all those interested in contemporary debates about liberty, equality, justice and community."
Michael Sandel, Harvard University
From the Back Cover
Politicians invoke grand ideas: social justice, democracy, liberty, equality,community. But what do these ideas really mean? How can politicians across the political spectrum appeal to the same values?
This revised and expanded edition of Political Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide for Students and Politicians, answers these important questions. Accessible and lively, the book is an ideal student text, but it also brings the insights of the world’s leading political philosophers to a wide general audience. Using plenty of examples, it equips readers to think for themselves about the ideas that shape political life.
Democracy works best when both politicians and voters move beyond rhetoric to think clearly and carefully about the political principles that should govern their society. But clear thinking is difficult in an age when established orthodoxies have fallen by the wayside. Bringing political philosophy out of the ivory tower and within the reach of all, this book provides us with tools to cut through the complexities of modern politics. In so doing, it makes a valuable contribution to the democratic process.
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As a Habermasian and Scandinavian social democrat, what Swift presents as leftist views appears to me to be the views of the centre-right. Still, the book's exquisite conceptual rigour (which one would expect from an analytical philosopher) actually helped me sharpening my understanding on liberty/freedom within the Scandinavian model of distribution.
Overall, this book is highly recommended. It presents itself as a beginners guide, but is has a lot to offer to the advanced reader as well. For example, Amartya Sen's name is not mentioned in the chapter on social justice. Yet over a few paragraphs, elegantly interwoven in the general text, Swift explains the basic structure of Sen's so-called "capability approach".
I usually feel obliged to talk in class a good deal about the books I assign, but I haven't been talking about Swift's book much because it getes everything right (so nothing to argue with) and is written with such precision and transparency that there's nothing to clarify or explain. I do frequently use arguments or ideas from the book when explaining particular positions in the authors we are studying. I had expected some irritation from students for making them read a book that we don't discuss, but, as I say, several of them have (I suppose rather insultingly) thanked me because they find that it is an easy read that illuminates the other readings (more than my lectures do?). Its a great book for anyone who wants to understand better what political philosophers do, especially I would say if you have a background in the social sciences, and the perfect holiday gift for the politically engaged but intellectually serious young person in your life.