Political Theory

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By C. B. Macpherson

Crawford Brough Macpherson, an incredibly influential author and instructor and Canada's pre-eminent political theorist, received a world acceptance for his debatable interpretation of liberalism. within the first ebook to ascertain the full variety of Macpherson's writings, William Leiss seeks to put that interpretation of liberalism in the total framework of Macpherson's highbrow improvement. concentrating on key issues - estate and the kingdom - Leiss tracks Macpherson's research of the contradictions of liberal-democracy via all of his writings, starting together with his 1935 M.A. thesis supervised by means of Harold Laski at LSE. His concluding bankruptcy severely examines the middle of Macpherson's political philosophy - the excellence among extractive and developmental powers - opposed to the heritage of social switch within the democracies of the West within the interval because the finish of the second one international struggle. a brand new preface by way of the writer reports books and articles on Macpherson released within the interval considering this ebook first seemed in 1988.

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Extra resources for Dilemmas of Liberalism and Socialism (2nd Edition)

Sample text

The work of an epic theorist is also marked by the "quality of caring for public things (res publicae)," that is, an explicit commitment to promoting the common good. Finally, and as a derivative of these two features, the epic theorist, who entertains the possibility that the existing political order is systematically flawed, constructs a political theory which "takes the form of a symbolic picture of an ordered whole," that is, a vision of a better world which does not take the present-day "facts" of existence as an eternal condition of humanity.

2 Among the thinkers of his generation who 14 C. B. Macpherson shared some form of the "radical" critique of capitalism, Macpherson stands out as perhaps the most important native North American theorist, and a good deal of his importance lies in his consistent defense of liberal political values as an essential part of this critique. In my view this defense is a logical outcome of the other side of his dual commitment, that is, his commitment to scholarly pursuits. For the honest practice of the scholar's trade demands explicit adherence to liberal values: freedom of expression, canons of fairness in argument, equality of opportunity for participation, protection against persecution for opinions, tolerance, and the search for truth.

Macpherson's method is to seek to break free of this underlying tension or dilemma by posing a series of choices between mutually exclusive options for future social development (which are in turn based upon mutually exclusive ways of seeing the social world), and by suggesting that choosing one option over another will enable us to overcome the dilemma and to achieve both freedom and justice. Finally, it is suggested that we are not meant to take literally this posing of options, but rather to make use of the clarification it brings in order to identify the essential features of actual political and social choices now.

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