Political Philosophy in the Twenty-First Century

Essential Essays


Steven M. Cahn, Robert B. Talisse

First Edition • September 4, 2012 • 304 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813346908 • $42.00 USD$61.50 CAN

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Moving beyond the work of Rawls and his critics, this concise collection contains critical essays in contemporary political philosophy. All have been chosen for their importance and accessibility, and some have been edited by their authors for inclusion in this work. The book covers five main topics: equality, justice, liberty, democracy, and human rights. To assist readers, the editors have also provided section introduction and study questions as well as an overall introduction explaining the background to contemporary work in political philosophy. Beginning where most other anthologies in political philosophy conclude, this book can be used alone or in conjunction with any collection of historical sources.


Steven M. Cahn is professor of philosophy at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author of ten books, including God, Reason, and Religion; From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor; and Saints and Scamps: Ethics in Academia (25th Anniversary Edition). He has edited or coedited some forty books, including Thinking about Logic: Classic Essays (Westview Press); Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts; Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy; The Affirmative Action Debate; and Classic and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Education.

Robert B. Talisse is professor of philosophy and chair of the philosophy department at Vanderbilt University. His books include Democracy and Moral Conflict; Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed; A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy; and Democracy after Liberalism. He has also coedited numerous volumes, including Thinking about Logic: Classic Essays (Westview Press); The Pragmatism Reader; Political Problems; and A Teacher’s Life: Essays for Steven Cahn.

I. Equality
1. Ronald Dworkin, “Equality”
2. Elizabeth Anderson, “Democratic Equality”
3. Kok Chor Tan, “A Defense of Luck Egalitarianism

II. Justice
4. G. A. Cohen “Rescuing Justice and Equality”
5. David Miller, “Justice and Boundaries”
6. Amartya Sen, “Capabilities and Resources”

III. Liberty
7. Philip Pettit, “The Instability of Freedom as Non-Interference”
8. John Christman, “Can Positive Freedom be Saved”
9. Ian Carter, “The Myth of ‘Merely Formal Freedom’”

IV. Democracy
10. Richard Arneson, “Democracy is not Intrinsically Just”
11. Thomas Christiano, “The Authority of Democracy”
12. Joshua Cohen, “Reflections on Deliberative Democracy”

V. Human Rights
13. Onora O’Neill “The Dark Side of Human Rights”
14. Thomas Pogge, “World Poverty and Human Rights”
15. Martha Nussbaum, “Capabilities and Social Justice”

“An excellent collection.” —Teaching Philosophy

“An outstanding collection of cutting-edge work in contemporary political philosophy, with a great introductory essay that gives students the background necessary to engage with the excellent essays in the book.” —Nicole Hassoun, Carnegie Mellon University
“Cahn and Talisse have compiled some excellent essays from an impressive array of contemporary political theorists. This book would be a fine text for an upper-level undergraduate course in political philosophy.” —J. Caleb Clanton, Pepperdine University

“This volume brings together fifteen essays at the leading edge of contemporary political philosophy. The thinkers represented here are first-rate; the articles Cahn and Talisse have included have not only contributed to five of the most vibrant areas in the discipline, but in many cases are responsible for their ferment. Scholars of the subject will be glad to have these pieces made so readily available. Teachers will find that they can easily structure a major- or graduate-level course around the contents of this exceptionally useful anthology.” —Paul Weithman, University of Notre Dame

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