Contemporary Anglo-American Political Philosophy

George Klosko

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199238804
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Contemporary Anglo-American Political Philosophy

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According to a now familiar narrative, in the middle of the twentieth century, political philosophy was “dead,” but it has since been resurrected in a new form. Credit for the death certificate is given to Peter Laslett, who bemoaned the absence of major philosophers writing in English, like the tradition of thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to Bernard Bosanquet. According to many theorists, responsibility for the revival of political philosophy belongs to John Rawls. One of Rawls's most important contributions is the method of “reflective equilibrium.” In A Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls attempts to reconcile freedom and equality in a principled way, offering an account of “justice as fairness.” Three years after publication of Theory, Rawls's Harvard colleague Robert Nozick published Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), which is, after Theory, probably the most celebrated and widely discussed work in political philosophy in recent decades. This article explores contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy, the evolution of Rawls's thought, communitarianism, feminism and liberalism, multiculturalism, and global justice.

Keywords: John Rawls; political philosophy; communitarianism; feminism; liberalism; multiculturalism; global justice; Robert Nozick; reflective equilibrium; fairness

Article.  11566 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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