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Chambers, Clare, , Phil Parvin. Teach Yourself Political Philosophy: A Complete Introduction
2012, Hodder & Stoughton.
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Publisher’s Note: Written by Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers, who are current political philosophy lecturers and leading researchers, Political Philosophy – The Essentials is designed to give you everything you need to succeed, all in one place. It covers the key areas that students are expected to be confident in, outlining the basics in clear jargon-free English, and then providing added-value features like summaries of key thinkers, and even lists of questions you might be asked in your seminar or exam. The book’s structure follows that of most university courses on political philosophy, by looking at the essential concepts within political philosophy (freedom, equality, power, democracy, rights, the state, political obligation), and then looking at the ways in which political philosophers have used these fundamental concepts in order to tackle a range of normative political questions such as whether the state has a responsibility to alleviate inequalities, and what interest liberal and democratic states should take in the cultural or religious beliefs of citizens.

Comment: ‘Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers have produced a state of the art textbook, which provides students with a comprehensive and bang up-to-date introduction to contemporary political philosophy. Topics are introduced in a clear and eminently readable fashion, using accessible real world examples whilst drawing on sophisticated scholarly literature. There is no comparable book which covers such a wide range of topics in such a student-friendly manner.’ (Dr Daniel Butt, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Bristol.)‘A lively, accessible and engaging read. Comprehensive and well organized, it provides an updated account of key concepts in contemporary political philosophy, and highlights their relevance to political life in the 21st century. A valuable book for anyone taking their first steps in the world of political philosophy, or anyone who seeks to understand the normative challenges faced by our society today.’ (Dr Avia Pasternak, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Essex.)‘Written in a clear and accessible style, it is an engaging introduction for those who are new to political philosophy and wish to think through some of its most important questions. In addition to offering outlines of key arguments, each chapter also contains a summary of main concepts, self-test questions, a wonderful selection of quotations and some attention-grabbing ‘nuggets” (Dr Zosia Stemplowska, University Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Oxford)

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Gutmann, Amy, , . Democratic Education
1999, Princeton University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: Who should have the authority to shape the education of citizens in a democracy? This is the central question posed by Amy Gutmann in the first book-length study of the democratic theory of education. The author tackles a wide range of issues, from the democratic case against book banning to the role of teachers’ unions in education, as well as the vexed questions of public support for private schools and affirmative action in college admissions.

Comment: Comprehensive and insightful treatment of the subject of education in a democracy. Could provide a main text for a specialised lecture or seminar, or solid further reading on a more general module for anyone particularly interested in civic education.

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Hampton, Jean, , . Political Philosophy
1996, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
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Publisher’s Note: Political philosophy, perhaps even more than other branches of philosophy, calls for constant renewal to reflect not just re-readings of the tradition but also the demands of current events. In this lively and readable survey, Jean Hampton has created a text for our time that does justice both to the great traditions of the field and to the newest developments. In a marvelous feat of synthesis, she links the classical tradition, the giants of the modern period, the dominant topics of the twentieth century, and the new questions and concerns that are just beginning to rewrite contemporary political philosophy.Hampton presents these traditions in an engaging and accessible manner, adding to them her own views and encouraging readers to critically examine a range of ideas and to reach their own conclusions. Of particular interest are the discussions of the contemporary liberalism-communitarianism debates, the revival of interest in issues of citizenship and nationality, and the way in which feminist concerns are integrated into all these discussions. Political Philosophy is the most modern text on the topic now available, the ideal guide to what is going on in the field. It will be welcomed by scholars and students in philosophy and political science, and it will serve as an introduction for readers from outside these fields.

Comment: Many of the chapters would make for good introductory readings to standard topics in political philosophy, including: social contract theories, political authority, distributive justice, liberalism vs communitarianism, nationalism.

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Kelly, Erin, , McPherson, Lionel. On tolerating the unreasonable
2001, Journal of Political Philosophy 9(1): 38–55.
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Diversifying Syllabi: Justice requires us to acknowledge the claims of morally or philosophically unreasonable persons, as long as they are politically reasonable; such people must be tolerated and considered part of the social contract. Toleration as wide public justification is the proper response to the pluralism characteristic of modern democratic societies.

Comment: This text is useful as a commentary or response to the debate about (un)reasonableness and legitimacy sparked by Rawls. More specifically, it offers a distinction between political and philosophical reasonableness, which the authors use to argue against interpreting or developing Rawls’s political liberalism in a less tolerant direction. The section on Barbara Herman’s ‘Pluralism and the Community of Moral Judgment’ helpfully distils a major faultline within liberal political philosophy.

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Tan, Sor-Hoon, , . Why Equality and Which Inequalities?: A Modern Confucian Approach to Democracy
2016, Philosophy East and West 66(2): 488–514
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Wilson Lee

Abstract: This article challenges the conventional view that Confucianism has no place for the value of equality by shifting the focus from direct justification of equality (Why equality?) to concerns about actual social and political problems (Which inequalities are objectionable?). From this perspective, early Confucian texts endorse some inequalities, in particular those based on virtue, while objecting to others, especially socioeconomic inequalities. Confucians do not consider equality or inequality as inherently valuable, but evaluate them in relation to issues of good government.

Comment: Coming from a Confucian perspective, the paper examines the relation between equality and democracy with implications for both reconstructing Confucian political philosophy for today and democratic theory as such. This is an important point of dialogue for Anglophone political philosophers to have a more objective picture of Confucian political philosophy instead of the usual imperialist caricatures. The point of dialogue is also being explored by a Singaporean scholar in Singapore (despite having been once a crown colony its scholarship is unfortunately very much ignored in the Anglophone world), whose work and life lies at the intersection of Chinese and Anglo-European intellectual traditions.

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Zimmermann, Annette, , . Criminal Disenfranchisement and the Concept of Political Wrongdoing
2019, Philosophy & Public Affairs 47 (4), 378-411.
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Annette Zimmermann

Abstract: Disagreement persists about when, if at all, disenfranchisement is a fitting response to criminal wrongdoing of type X. Positive retributivists endorse a permissive view of fittingness: on this view, disenfranchising a remarkably wide range of morally serious criminal wrongdoers is justified. But defining fittingness in the context of criminal disenfranchisement in such broad terms is implausible, since many crimes sanctioned via disenfranchisement have little to do with democratic participation in the first place: the link between the nature of a criminal act X (the ‘desert basis’) and a fitting sanction Y is insufficiently direct in such cases. I define a new, much narrower account of the kind of criminal wrongdoing which is a more plausible desert basis for disenfranchisement: ‘political wrongdoing’, such as electioneering, corruption, or conspiracy with foreign powers. I conclude that widespread blanket and post-incarceration disenfranchisement policies are overinclusive, because they disenfranchise persons guilty of serious, but non-political, criminal wrongdoing. While such overinclusiveness is objectionable in any context, it is particularly objectionable in circumstances in which it has additional large-scale collateral consequences, for instance by perpetuating existing structures of racial injustice. At the same time, current policies are underinclusive, thus hindering the aim of holding political wrongdoers accountable.

Comment: This paper critically assesses existing arguments in the philosophy of criminal law on the permissibility of criminal disenfranchisement; develops a novel negative retributivist argument; argues that current criminal disenfranchisement are much too overinclusive, but also underinclusive.

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