Social and Political Philosophy [ed: TBA & Douglas Giles]

This thread will be for discussions related to the Social and Political Philosophy book of the Introduction to Philosophy open textbook series. See the full project summary.

This book is currently (as of April 15 2019) in need of an editor, as the previous editor stepped away from the project. If you think you might be interested, please see the editor role description, and signal your interest on the volunteer sign up thread. The summary and outline we currently have could be adjusted, though several chapters are already written and we want to keep those!

Book Summary:
This book asks “how should we live together?” and explores the ways in which social and political philosophies have influenced forms of political institutions, our ways of life, and current sociopolitcal debates. It will address the principles that establish and justify societies and governments, including the fundamental yet controversial principles of authority, justice, rights, equality, liberty, and democracy. It will look at how philosophers have conceived of the rights and responsibilities of a society to its members, of the members to society and to each other, and of a society to other societies.

How to participate:
We’ll currently looking for chapter authors in this book.

Each chapter will be roughly 3000 words. If you’d like to claim a chapter, check out the outline below, add your name, and comment to let us know which chapter you are interested in taking on.

Relevant Documents:
Book Outline – This doc gives an overview of the part and details each of the chapters to be written.
Chapter Assignments – Want to claim a chapter? Look at the chapters that need an author, and let us know in below, or in the volunteer sign up thread.
Author Guide – Read this guide to find out more about what committing to author a chapter involves.

Team: @clhendricksbc (lead editor), @zoe (Rebus project manager) … and you?

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Section Summary

This part asks “how should we live together?” and how we sould organize our society and government. It explores the ways in which social and political philosophies have influenced forms of political institutions, our ways of life, and current sociopolitcal debates. It will address the principles that establish and justify societies and governments, including the fundamental yet controversial principles of authority, justice, rights, equality, liberty, and democracy. It will look at how philosophers have conceived of the rights and responsibilities of a society to its members, of the members to society and to each other, and of a society to other societies.

Section Outline
This part takes a hybrid approach of chronology and topic. Each chapter to no more than 4,000 words.

Chapter 1: What is Social and Political Philosophy?
Introduces the basic themes and questions related to how we should construct our society and our governmental systems. What is human nature and how does that effect how we live together? What do we mean by the concepts of justice, rights, equality, liberty, and democracy? What are the basic forms of government? What are the approaches to justice?

Chapter 2: The Ideal Society
Deals with idealistic and utopian visions of the ideal society. Will cover the general idea of a perfect society, Plato’s ideal state in The Republic, and John Rawls’s thought experiment about a fair society. Who should rule society and what the basis of their authority is.

Chapter 3: Autocracy, Timocracy, and Aristocracy
Discusses ancient and medieval conceptions of the legitimacy of autocratic rule. Includes Aristotle’s conception of the city-state, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas on the divine right of kings, and perhaps also Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince discussing the nature of political power and how to wield and maintain it.

Chapter 4: The State of Nature and the Modern State
This chapter starts with Thomas Hobbes’s defense of autocratic political power in Leviathan and his arguments for political authority and the transition from the state of nature to the commonwealth. It will provide a counterpoint to Hobbes with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s critique of society and his account of the state of nature.

Chapter 5: Constitutional and Representative Government
Covers John Locke’s philosophy on the origins, nature, and purpose of government and his labor theory of property, the foundations of the U.S. political philosophy and governmental system, Edmund Burke on conservatism, J.S. Mill on democracy, and systems of constitutional monarchy in Europe

Chapter 6: Capitalism and Marxism
Adam Smith’s economic theories and his view of the independent individual in competition with other individuals. The development of industrial capitalism in the 19th century. The anti-capitalist response by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ in Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto and the various forms of social and political thought inspired by Marx.

Chapter 7: 20th Century Theories
The chapter will cover the grand theorizing of the 20th century, such as Post-Marxist theory including György Lukács, the Frankfurt School, and others, and fascism. Also: Theories of democracy and representative government such as John Dewey. 20th century defenders of capitalism like Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman.

Chapter 8: Human Rights. Critical Theory, and Social Justice
This chapter will discuss the development of the concept of human rights leading the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of liberty by J.S. Mill and Isaiah Berlin, and conceptions of equality. It will also deal with issues of injustice, subordination, and oppression, and second and third generation critical theory.

Chapter 9: Radical Social Theories
Post-modern and anti-modern critique, Michel Foucault, feminist and gender theory, critical race theory, anti-colonialism, radical socialism. Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution and Totalitarianism.

Chapter 10: [Overflow?]

@dmgile Hi Douglas, this looks great, thank you so much for sharing. I’ve put this draft in a Google document, in case anyone wanted to leave comments there, and to make it simpler for you to make changes. Let me know if you have trouble accessing it.

@apurva Good, thank you. I do not know if I have rights to create Google Docs or what the procedure is for posting new content. I am definitely open to suggestions on the Section Outline.

@dmgile The easiest thing to do would be for you to create a Google Doc, and share it here on the forum. We can make sure that all the permissions are set, so everyone has access to the file. I’m sure you will see suggestions both here on the forum, and perhaps as comments on the file. You can go ahead and make changes in the file I just shared, and we can treat that as a working document. Hope this clears up the process somewhat!

@apurva @dmgile I’ll revise Apurva’s comment above slightly to say you can share any docs you create with one of us via email (and post on the forum as well if you like) and we’ll handle the rest!

And a big thanks for sharing your outline! Will be great to get some feedback and keep moving forward :slight_smile:

Hi all,

Sorry, I wasn’t “watching” this thread yet so wasn’t getting notifications of the messages here!

Should I post a notice to the main project discussion page, asking for comments on this outline? Maybe also on the Ethics thread too?

@clhendricksbc Yes, please do, I have not received much response so far.

@clhendricksbc Yes, that would be very helpful! We have outlines for quite a few parts now – this one, Ethics, Aesthetics, Logic, Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophy of Mind – and welcome input on all of them.

There are still some chapters remaining on Ethics and Aesthetics, in case anyone wanted to sign-up for them!

Thanks to everyone who provided their feedback on the outline for this part! It is now closed for comments. We will start looking for chapter authors very soon, and if you’re interested, just add your name to the spreadsheet at the top of the page.

@apurva I am interested in writing one of the chapters. But I can’t find the spreadsheet for Social and Political Philosophy - Chapter Assignments. The available spreadsheets I saw are for Ethics, Logic and Aesthetics.

@farafranki We finalized the chapter outline yesterday and I posted the spreadsheet today. It is in the Chapter Submissions folder, and hopefully this link works: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sFeBEqhewWjmGubA3Y9tjnAOG34T3biue1g8JA47t2U/edit#gid=0. Please look over the chapter descriptions and add your name for the chapter you are interested in writing. Please also post here in this thread about your background and qualifications. We will take applications for chapters over the next month and make decisions then. Thanks!

@dmgile Thanks for your message. I am Frank Abumere, a postdoc at the Department of Philosophy, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway. Until recently I was a lecturer at the Department of Philosophy, EBSU, Nigeria. I have a BA Honours in Philosophy, an MA in Philosophy (London), a Dr Phil in Sociology and a PhD in Political Theory (Rome).

@farafranki Hi Frank, thanks for pointing out the missing parts in the spreadsheet. I’ve updated the document so it now contains assignments for all the parts (except Philosophy of Mind, which is yet to be finalized), and made sure to indicate your interest in authoring chapter 4.

I am interested in writing the section on human rights. Does one simply ‘claim’ a section? I’m happy to chat about qualifications and the like. I’m just not sure of the process.

@lamont.rodgers Hello, Lamont. Thank you for your interest. Please send me your CV, which chapter you are interested in and an abstract of what you propose to include in the chapter. My e-mail is dmgile@essex.ac.uk. Thanks.

@dmgile I believe Lamont had sent along his CV in his initial email (don’t think you were copied in the early exchange), and it is in the Drive. Let me know if you have trouble accessing it.

@lamont-rodgers, you can send along the remaining information requested to Douglas.

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