1st Edition

Conceptualizing Politics An Introduction to Political Philosophy

By Furio Cerutti Copyright 2017
    236 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    236 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Politics is hugely complex. Some try to reduce its complexity by examining it through an ideological worldview, a one-size-fits-all prescriptive formula or a quantitative examination of as many 'facts' as possible. Yet politics cannot be adequately handled as if it were made of cells and particles: ideological views are oversimplifying and sometimes dangerous. Politics is not simply a moral matter, nor political philosophy a subdivision of moral philosophy. This book is devised as a basic conceptual lexicon for all those who want to understand what politics is, how it works and how it changes or fails to change. Key concepts such as power, conflict, legitimacy and order are clearly defined and their interplay in the state, interstate and global level explored. Principles such as liberty, equality, justice and solidarity are discussed in the context of the political choices confronting us. 

    This compact and systematic introduction to the categories needed to grasp the fundamentals of politics will appeal to readers who want to gain a firmer grasp on the workings of politics, as well as to scholars and students of philosophy, political science and history.

    Part I. What is Politics?

    Chapter 1. Politics and Power

    Chapter 2. The Subjective Side of Politics: Legitimacy, Identity, Obligation

    Excursus 1. What is political philosophy?

    Part II. How Politics Works

    Chapter 3. Order, institutions, models

    Chapter 4. The State

    Chapter 5. Government and Democracy

    Part III. World Politics and the Future of Politics

    Chapter 6. The States: Power, Peace and War in the Anarchical Society

    Chapter 7. The Globalised World: a Challenge to Politics

    Part I. Globalization and Global Governance

    Part II. Global/Lethal Challenges: Politics after Modernity

    Excursus 2. Politics and Death

    Part IV. Ethics and Politics

    Chapter 8. Liberty and Equality

    Chapter 9. Justice and Solidarity

    Chapter 10. Ethics, Philosophy and Politics





    Furio Cerutti is professor emeritus of political philosophy at the University of Florence. Ten years of his academic career were spent at the Universities of Heidelberg and Frankfurt am Main and later at Harvard (Law School and later Center for European Studies). He has also been a visiting professor at China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing; London School of Economics; Paris 8; Scuola superiore Université de Sant’Anna, Pisa; Stanford University in Florence.

    Cerutti’s two research topics are the theory of politics after modernity (Global Challenges for Leviathan: A Political Philosophy of Nuclear Weapons and Global Warming, 2007; 全球治理:挑战与趋势 (Global Governance:Challenges and Trends), 2014) and the theory of political identity and legitimacy, with a focus on the question of European identity (The Search for a European Identity: Values, Policies and Legitimacy of the European Union, 2008; Debating Political Identity and Legitimacy in the European Union, 2011, both coedited and published by Routledge in the Garnet book series). He is now working on the present significance of the ‘future’ in political debate and decision-making.

    "Furio Cerutti has written a wide-ranging and profound analysis of the nature, the purpose and the morality of politics. In a time of post-truth, fake news, and rising populism across the West he reminds us that the art of government must fail if it does not respect scientific knowledge, and that while it is prudence rather than theoretical knowledge which leads to good choices in politics, clear concepts and rational argumentation are still essential aids. A compelling read." - Professor Andrew Gamble, Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Cambridge

    "The wager on which Conceptualizing Politics rests is that by focusing on the concepts fundamental to politics one can break through the complexity ordinarily associated with that subject. On that score this book is an extraordinary success. Recommended not only to those who wish to be introduced to politics but also to those who want to deepen their knowledge of the subject." - David M. Rasmussen, Professor, Boston College; Editor-in-Chief, Philosophy and Social Criticism


    ‘The book, rich of inspiration as it is, should not be considered one of the several textbooks on political philosophy and should be rather considered as a text which can be read at different layers by students, scholars and practitioners. As for the students, the book has the merit to go beyond a didactic attitude which privileges history of ideas to the reflection on ideas, encouraging them to reflect on topic, more than on authors.’ - Sonia Lucarelli, The International Spectator, Italian Journal of International Affairs