Political philosophy is a field of study which aims to clarify our most fundamental ethical questions as human beings living in societies under conditions of scarce resources and unequal power: How should we live? What does a good life look like? What kind of social and political arrangements are most conducive to living good lives? Puzzles in contemporary political philosophy shows the relevance of classical and contemporary thinkers to our own lives and the world we live in today.
This introduction uses a wealth of real-world examples drawn from the South African context to explore some of these questions:
- We value freedom but where should the limits to our freedom lie?
- What do we mean by equality? Do we mean that we want people to be equally happy, or equally successful, or equally well fed?
- We think of democracies as places where citizens can enjoy a certain measure of justice, but what is meant by "justice"? Is it a particular form of distribution of goods, of services, of opportunities?
- Is justice the same as "equality" or is there a difference?
- Are some forms of inequality "just"? Is justness the same as "fairness"?
Written in simple, jargon-free language, this introduction to some of the most important debates in contemporary politics is an essential guide for undergraduate South African students of political philosophy.
Chapter 1: Liberty
Chapter 2: Equality
Chapter 3: Justice
Chapter 4: Needs
Chapter 5: Legitimacy
Chapter 6: Rights
Chapter 7: Political obligation
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