Social and Political Philosophy : A Contemporary Introduction book cover
2nd Edition

Social and Political Philosophy
A Contemporary Introduction

ISBN 9781138841659
Published October 3, 2017 by Routledge
292 Pages

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Book Description

This accessible book is invaluable to anyone coming to social and political philosophy for the first time. It provides a broad survey of key social and political questions in modern society, as well as clear discussions of the philosophical issues central to those questions and to political thought more generally. Unique among books of this kind is a sustained treatment of specifically social philosophy, including topics such as epistemic injustice, pornography, marriage, sexuality, and the family. The relation between such social questions and specifically political topics is discussed. These topics include: political authority, economic justice, the limits of tolerance, considerations of community, race, gender, and culture in questions of justice, and radical critiques of current political theories.  Updates to the Second Edition emphasize the non-statist areas of the subject and include two brand new chapters on social philosophy and transnational justice. This Second Edition also includes revisions throughout and coverage of recent theoretical discussions and world events.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

1. Introduction

The Liberal Democratic Paradigm

Preliminaries I: Method

Preliminaries II: Moral Theory and Political Philosophy

Structure of the Book

Notes on Further Reading

2. Social Philosophy and the Road to the Political

What is Social Philosophy?

A Selection of Issues in Social Philosophy

From Social Criticism to Political Philosophy

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading


Part I. Basic Issues Within the Liberal Paradigm

3. The Problem of Political Authority

The Social Contract Tradition

Hobbes’s Social Contract: Mechanism, Egoism, and Rationality

Locke: Reason, Morality, and Freedom

Lessons from Rousseau and Kant

From Consent to Legitimacy

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading

4. Distributive Justice

Distributive Justice and Equality


Utilitarian Approaches to Economic Justice

Rawlsian Distributive Justice

Varieties of Egalitarianism

From Equality to the Welfare State

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading

5. Toleration, Pluralism, and the Foundations of Liberalism

The Canons of Liberalism

The Perfectionist Challenge

Utilitarian Liberalism: Perfectionism in Disguise?

The Response of Political Liberalism

Liberalism, Public Discourse, and Democracy

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading


Part II. Critique of the Liberal Paradigm: Challenges and Departures

6. Conservatism, Communitarianism, and The Social Conception of the Self



Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading

7. Race and the Politics of Identity

Ideal Theory and Ongoing Injustice

Critical Race Theory

What is Racism, What is Race?

Racism and The Structure of Liberalism

Liberalism, Freedom and Culture

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading

8. Feminism, Gender and Sexuality


Sexuality and Gender Identity

Identity, Injustice, and Democracy

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading

9. Marxism and Radical Critique

The Legacy of Marx and Marxism

Post-Modern Departures

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading

10. Beyond the Nation State

Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism

Human Rights

Global Justice Generally

Injustice and Borders: Immigration

Chapter Summary

Case to Consider

Notes on Further Reading

Epilogue: The Hope of Liberalism?

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John Christman is Professor of Philosophy, Political Science, and Women’s Studies at Penn State University. He is the author of The Politics of Persons: Individual Autonomy and Socio-historical Selves and The Myth of Property: Toward an Egalitarian Theory of Ownership. He is also the editor of The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy and co-editor (with Joel Anderson) of Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays.


"It was hard to improve upon the first edition of Christman’s Social and Political Philosophy. But he has done it! In his second edition, Christman has updated his text and included two new cutting-edge chapters. The result is a truly excellent introductory text for our times."

--James P. Sterba, University of Notre Dame

"Christman's Introduction into Social and Political Philosophy is without any doubt the most comprehensive and knowledgeable introduction we have at present. It is not only a thoughtful overview over all important philosophical traditions (not only the Anglo-American ones) but also all essential problems – from issues in marriage, gender or race to normative problems in human rights, global justice or immigration. It is unique in its close look at the complex links between the social issues and their role in different political conceptions. Christman helps us all to better understand social and political philosophy, and thereby to better understand contemporary societies and our place within them."

--Beate Roessler, University of Amsterdam

"Christman’s Introduction offers an impressively comprehensive, highly engaging and very accessible survey of the interconnected issues at the heart of political and social philosophy. The 1st edition has helped generations of students navigate the complexities of these philosophical fields – and the students in our courses loved it. If anything, this new expanded and updated 2nd edition will prove even more successful."

--Robin Celikates, University of Amsterdam