Reading Walzer: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reading Walzer

1st Edition

Edited by Yitzhak Benbaji, Naomi Sussmann


342 pages

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Michael Walzer is one of the world’s leading philosophers and political theorists. In addition to his best-known books such as Spheres of Justice, and Just and Unjust Wars, he has contributed to contemporary political debates beyond academia in the New York Times, the New Yorker and Dissent.

Reading Walzer is the first book to assess the full range of Walzer’s work. An outstanding team of international contributors consider the following topics in relation to Walzer’s work:

  • the moral standing of nation states
  • individual responsibility and laws governing the conduct of war
  • debates over intervention and non-intervention
  • human and minority rights
  • moral and cultural pluralism
  • equality
  • justice
  • Walzer’s radicalism and role as a critic.

All chapters have been specially commissioned for this collection, and Walzer’s responses to his critics makes Reading Walzer essential reading for students of political philosophy and political theory.


"Reading Walzer is taking Walzer seriously by providing attentive reading of an inspired political thinker with inspiring political thoughts. It covers many aspects of Walzer's thoughts not only with celebratory panache but also with critical punch. To read Michael Walzer is an aesthetic feast, to read Reading Walzer retains the flavor of reading the original." - Avishai Margalit, Princeton University, USA

"For more than 40 years, Michael Walzer has been one of the most distinctive, wide-ranging, and consistently interesting voices in political theory. These 14 essays by a top-flight cast of philosophers, political scientists, and legal scholars, display, in a critical and probing manner, the richness of Walzer’s legacy. Reading Walzer is a most welcome contribution, and clearly the best secondary source on Walzer available today." - Endre Begby, Simon Fraser University, Canada

"This Festschrift to Michael Walzer is, to the best of my knowledge, the first critical collection dedicated to his work. This may be surprising – as Naomi Sussmann’s helpful introduction demonstrates, and pace Walzer’s self-effacing claim that he has ‘generally been marginal to academic debates’ (p. 167), his contribution to these debates in the last 50 years has been remarkable. Given this lacuna, a collection of new articles from leading scholars revisiting Walzer’s writings is more than welcome."

- Lior Erez, University College London

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Substantive Unity of Michael Walzer's Pluralism Naomi Sussmann Part 1: The Moral Standing of States 1. Toleration, Self-Determination and the State David Miller 2. Taking Rights Seriously and the Human Rights Discourse Ruth Gavison 3. The Moral Standing of States Revisited Charles Beitz 4. On Mill, Walzer and Non-Intervention Michael Doyle Response Michael Walzer Part 2: State and Culture 5. What it Means to be a Pluralist Jacob Levy 6. Categorizing Groups, Categorizing States: Theorizing Minority Rights in a World of Deep Diversity Will Kymlicka 7. Between Sacred and Secular: Michael Walzer's Story of Exodus Bonnie Honig Response Michael Walzer Part 3: Politics and the Spheres of Justice 8. Justice beyond Fairness Michael Sandel 9. Plural Equality Thomas Scanlon 10. Walzer's Radicalism George Kateb Response Michael Walzer Part 4: Just War Theory 11. Individual Responsibility and the Law of Jus ad Bellum Jeff McMahan 12. Cosmopolitanism and the Laws of War Yitzhak Benbaji 13. Risk Taking and Force Protection David Luban 14. The Moral Psychic Reality of War Nancy Sherman Response Michael Walzer. Index

About the Editors

Michael Walzer is Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA. He is an editor emeriti of the political-intellectual quarterly Dissent, and is a contributing editor to The New Republic. To date, he has written 27 books and published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews in Dissent, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the New York Times, and many scholarly journals.

Yitzhak Benbaji teaches ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of law at the Tel Aviv University Law Faculty, Israel.

Naomi Sussmann is head of Citizenship and Community in Molad, The Centre for the renewal of Israeli Democracy, Jerusalem.

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