Skip to Content

Arguing About Political Philosophy

Edited by Matt Zwolinski

Routledge – 2009 – 674 pages

Series: Arguing About Philosophy

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $56.95
    January 22nd 2009
  • Add to CartHardback: $170.00
    January 22nd 2009


Arguing About Political Philosophy is an engaging survey of political philosophy perfect for beginning and advanced undergraduates. Selections cover classic philosophical sources such as Rousseau and Locke, as well as contemporary writers such as Nozick and Dworkin. In addition, this text includes a number of readings drawn from economics, literature, and sociology which serve to introduce philosophical questions about politics in a novel and intriguing way. As well as standard topics such as political authority and distributive justice, special attention is given to global issues which have become especially pressing in recent years, such as the right of individuals or groups to secede, the nature of global distributive justice, the morality of immigration, and the moral status of war and terrorism.

The volume is divided into 3 parts–Foundational Concepts; Government, the Economy and Morality; and Global Justice–helping the student get to grips with classic and core arguments and emerging debates in:

  • political authority
  • rights
  • justice
  • political economy
  • property rights
  • distributive justice
  • freedom
  • equality
  • immigration
  • war, humanitarianism, torture.

Matt Zwolinski provides lucid and engaging introductions to each section, giving an overview of the debate and outlining the arguments of each section’s readings. Arguing About Political Philosophy is an exciting introduction for students new to political philosophy.


'A formidable contribution as a general introduction to political philosophy. The book's contents are rich enough that it will outlast the reader's tenure as a beginner. The essays and excerpts included therein are worthy of repeat reading, will give even old hands the opportunity to see ideas presented in new and interesting ways.' - James Wakefield, e-International Relations Student Book Features, September 2012

'Arguing About Political Philosophy is a concise yet comprehensive introduction to the field of political philosophy. It is perfect both for beginners and for more advanced students wanting to know why the field’s cutting edge has taken its current shape. This is the best collection of its kind.' – David Schmidtz, University of Arizona, USA

'Drawing from an all-star cast of classic and contemporary readings that are framed by clear and concise introductions, Matt Zwolinksi’s Arguing About Political Philosophy is a superb introduction to thinking about the proper relationship that should hold between governments and individuals. Not only is this volume splendidly organized, but it covers a wealth of approaches and issues that are often omitted in more conventional anthologies. I can think of no other anthology of political philosophy that has both the breadth and depth of this book.' James S. Taylor, The College of New Jersey, USA

'Matt Zwolinski has put together an excellent textbook on political philosophy. He opens with the fundamental questions of whether and why we need authority in the first place, then covers such key issues as rights, equality, democracy, justice, and political economy, and then concludes with topics such as immigration, war, and global justice. The selections, ranging from classic to contemporary, are first-rate, on-point, well-organized, and expertly introduced. Zwolinski has done students and professors a huge service in editing this impressive textbook.' Aeon J. Skoble, Bridgewater State College USA


Part 1 – Foundational Concepts

    1. Political Authority
      1. Life Without a State
        1. Thomas Hobbes – Excerpts from Leviathan
        2. John Locke – Excerpts from Second Treatise of Civil Government
        3. Robert Axelrod – Excerpts from The Evolution of Cooperation
        4. Murray Rothbard – "Society without a State"

      2. The Social Contract
        1. Thomas Hobbes – Excerpts from Leviathan
        2. John Locke – Excerpts from Second Treatise of Civil Government
        3. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Excerpts from The Social Contract
        1. David Hume – "Of the Original Contract"
        2. Charles Tilly – "War Making and State Making as Organized Crime"

      1. Democratic Authority
        1. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson – "Moral Disagreement in a Democracy,"
        2. Gerald Gaus – "Public Justification and Democratic Adjudication"

    2. Rights
      1. UN – "Universal Declaration of Human Rights"
      2. Ronald Dworkin – "Taking Rights Seriously"
      3. Joel Feinberg – "The Nature and Value of Rights"
      4. Robert Nozick – "Libertarian Rights"

    3. Justice
      1. David Hume – "Justice as Convention," excerpt from Treatise of Human Nature
      2. John Stuart Mill – "Justice and Utility," excerpts from Utilitarianism
      3. John Rawls – "Justice as Fairness," excerpts from Theory of Justice
      4. Michael Sandel – "The Procedural Republic and the Unencumbered Self"

  1. Part 2 – Government, The Economy, and Morality
    1. Political Economy
      1. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels – "Communist Manifesto"
      2. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels – "Critique of the Gotha Program"
      3. Frederic Bastiat – Excerpt from "What is Seen and What is Not Seen"
      4. Charles Wolf – "Market Failure"
      5. William Mitchell and Randy Simmons – "Pathological Politics: The Anatomy of Government Failure"

    2. Property Rights
      1. John Locke – Excerpts from Second Treatise of Civil Government
      2. Henry George – "The Injustice of Private Property in Land"
      3. David Schmidtz – "The Institution of Property"
      4. G.A. Cohen – "Marx and Locke on Land and Labor"

    3. Distributive Justice
      1. Barbara Ehrenreich – Excerpts from Nickel and Dimed
      2. Robert Nozick – "The Entitlement Theory of Justice"
      3. Friedrich Hayek – "The Atavism of Social Justice"
      4. Bruce Ackerman – "On Getting What we Don’t Deserve"
      5. Kai Nielsen – "A Moral Case for Socialism"

    4. Freedom
      1. John Stuart Mill – "On Liberty"
      2. Isaiah Berlin – "Two Concepts of Liberty"
      3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt – "The Four Freedoms"
      4. George Fitzhugh – "Capitalism as Slavery"

    5. Equality
      1. Jean Jacques Rousseau – Excerpts from Discourse on the Origins of Inequality
      2. Harry Frankfurt – "Equality as a Moral Ideal"
      3. Kurt Vonnegut – "Harrison Bergeron"
      4. Richard Arneson – "Equality and Equal Opportunity for Welfare"
      5. David Schmidtz – "Equal Respect and Equal Shares"

  2. Part 3 – Global Justice
    1. Immigration
      1. Chandran Kukathas – "The Case for Open Immigration"
      2. David Miller – "Immigration: The Case for Limits"

    2. Global Distributive Justice
      1. Peter Singer – "Famine, Affluence, and Morality"
      2. Thomas Pogge – "World Poverty and Human Rights"
      3. Chandran Kukathas – "The Mirage of Global Justice"

    3. Secession
      1. Herbert Spencer – "The Right to Ignore the State"
      2. Allen Buchanan – "Secession and Nationalism"

    4. War, Humanitarianism, and Torture
      1. Randolph Bourne – "War is the Health of the State"
      2. Fernando Teson, "The Liberal Case for Humanitarian Intervention"
      3. David Luban – "Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb"

Author Bio

Matt Zwolinski is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego, and a co-director of USD’s Institute for Law and Philosophy. He has published on issues of exploitation and market exchange, and on the nature and value of liberty in political philosophy.

Name: Arguing About Political Philosophy (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: Edited by Matt Zwolinski. Arguing About Political Philosophy is an engaging survey of political philosophy perfect for beginning and advanced undergraduates. Selections cover classic philosophical sources such as Rousseau and Locke, as well as contemporary writers such as Nozick...
Categories: Political Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Political Theory