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Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192803955
ISBN-10: 0192803956
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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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192803956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192803955
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Avant-Garde Politician: Leaders for a New Epoch

This book is a very good short introduction to political philosophy. It fully meets the requirement that "political philosophers...are bound to challenge many of the conventional beliefs held both by politicians and by the public at large...when political philosophers put forward their own ideas and proposals, these nearly always look strange and disturbing to those who are used to the conventional debate" (pp. 9-10). This is all the more essential "at moments when we face new political challenges that we cannot deal with using the conventional wisdom of the day" (p. 11). I wish more political philosophers would heed this imperative, moving towards new paradigms as required by the metamorphosis into which humanity is cascading, instead of marginally improving ideas which are important but in need revaluation, often radically so.

All chapters are enlightening. Thus, chapter 4 on "Freedom and the limits of government" succinctly discusses central issues of "liberty" and "human rights." Departing from common views, the author distinguishes between "human rights" and "citizen rights", recommending quite counter-conventionally that "rights that belong on the longer list (of) rights of citizenship...ought to be recognized as basic protections for the individual within our political community - while in other communities a different set of rights, overlapping with but not identical with ours, should prevail (p. 72, emphasis in original). The author is careful "not to succumb to debilitating political correctness." Thus, he offers a balanced view of feminism and multiculturalism (p. 102).
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