Political Philosophy: A Historical Introduction by Michael J. White

In a lengthy and readable manner, White (Arizona State University) provides a capable introduction to major political philosophers in the Western tradition.  Generally, the text follows a traditional approach by surveying seminal thinkers and texts, but the author, influenced by recent efforts to place political philosophy “within the context of a more comprehensive moral, philosophical, or religious point of view” (p. 414), provides a supplemental basis of analysis for the reader to contemplate as well.  The underlying argument of the text is most laudable, but insufficient use is made of the recent scholarship that most closely conforms to this mode of interpretation.

As a second edition, the book includes a new chapter on Cicero, and new sections on Marsilius of Padua and John Stuart Mill.  The chapter on Cicero addresses the interconnectivity between reason and morality in Cicero’s political thought.  Additional contributions of the text are the author’s attempt to introduce, and then explicate, the “enduring issues” of political philosophy as a framework (pp. 13-17) for better understanding contemporary politics, and the thoughtful treatment of Christianity’s role in shaping the political thought of the West (chapter 6).

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