Synopses & Reviews
In his new book, distinguished political philosopher Raymond Geuss critically examines some of the most widely held and important preconceptions about contemporary politics western societies: the state, authority, violence and coercion, the concept of legitimacy, liberalism, toleration, freedom, democracy, and human rights. Geuss argues that the liberal democratic state committed to the defense of human rights is in fact a confused conjunction of disparate elements. One of his most striking claims is that it makes sense to speak of rights only relative to a mechanism for enforcing them, and that therefore the whole concept of a "human right" as it is commonly used in contemporary political philosophy, is a confusion. A profound and concise essay on the basic structure of contemporary politics, History and Illusion in Politics is written in a voice that is skeptical, engaged, and clear. Raymond Geuss is University Lecturer, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. Educated in the United States and Germany, he has held academic posts at Heidelberg, the University of Chicago and Princeton University. He is the editor of Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy (Cambridge, 1999) and the author of Public Goods, Private Goods (Princeton, 2001). He is a frequent commentator on BBC Radio Three and World Service.
"...impressive..." Ethics"Writing in a clear, analytic style that avoids superficial logic chopping, Guess (Cambridge) argues that the elements underlying much contemporary thinking about liberal democratic states with capitalist economies and a commitment to human rights--conjunctions resulting from contingne thistorical processes--are often conceptually confused and incoherent.... The book would serve as an excellent resource for both graduate and undergraduate students. Highly recommended." Choice
The distinguished political philosopher Raymond Geuss examines critically the central topics in western political thought.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 163-167) and index.
About the Author
Raymond Geuss is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He has taught widely in Germany and the United States, and has been an editor of the series of Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought since its inception. His previous books include The Idea of a Critical Theory (Cambridge, 1981, ISBN 0521 284228), Morality, Culture, and History (Cambridge, 1999, ISBN 0 521 635683), and Public Goods, Private Goods (Princeton, 2001). He has also published a collection of classical verse in his own English translations, Parrots, Poets, and Philosophers & Good Advice (London, 1999).
Table of Contents
Preface; Introduction; Part I. The State: 1.1 Political associations; 1.2 Violence, coercion, and power; 1.3 The concept of the state; 1.4 The concept of legitimacy; 1.5 Authority; 1.6 Weber's 'modern' state; 1.7 History and the concept of the state; 1.8 Anarchy and the state; 1.9 The legitimacy of the state; Part II. Liberalism: 2.1 The context; 2.2 Toleration; 2.3 Freedom; 2.4 Individualism; 2.5 Limited, unlimited, and discretionary power; Part III. Democracy and Rights: 3.1 Democracy: description and interpretation; 3.2 Democracy: evaluation; 3.3 Popular control and the state; 3.4 Legal rights; 3.5 Human rights; 3.6 Rights and politics; 4. Conclusion; Index.