Modern political science is characterized by freedom of thought and a great variety of political theories, every one of which has found its followers and opponents. Despite the existence of a great variety of political theories, only some of them prevail nowadays as their followers try to analyze and solve the most important issues of the modern world using these theories. By the 21st century the majority of countries either developed or developing ones have transformed to democratic political regime, because only democracy provides people with equal rights, gives people an opportunity to have a free choice of their political leaders by means of elections and gives people the right to express their opinion about government and every event taking place inside and outside the country. For this reason, his the two most popular political theories nowadays are, of course, democracy and liberalism. Exactly on democracy, liberalism, as well as the theory of environmentalism and feminist social theory famous contemporary political philosophers, focused. They have been studying the patterns of development of democracy and liberalism in the modern society, development of modern feminism and environmental politics, which is an essential part of human life.
The author of the book “Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader” Colin Farrelly has gathered a lot of material about modern political philosophers, their works and their views on the development of modern political science. The book covers the studies of the most prominent political philosophers and theorists, such as Robert Nozick, Michael Sandel, Iris Marion and John Dryzek, whose views and researches are of key importance to contemporary political science.
All of the four political philosophers, which are discussed in the book by Colin Farrelly, and will be discussed further in the study, lived in the 20th century or continue to live now. Most of their studies have been devoted to democracy and liberalism; however, there are certain differences in their views.
Robert Nozick (1938 – 2002) is known as one of the most prominent political philosophers of the 20th century. He was an American; however, his parents’ origin is from Russia. Nozick conducted several important studies on political philosophy, for which he was rewarded several well-known awards. Robert Nozick was an ardent follower of libertarianism, to which he devoted his book “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”, which was written in 1974. Exactly this book brought fame to Robert Nozick. In “Anarchy, State and Utopia” Robert Nozick argues what human rights should be considered as primary, stating that rights to have property should be primary and shouldn’t be violated, but, on the contrary, protected . Nozick extensively defended free-market liberalism and the concept of minimal state, the main purpose of which, according to Nozick, is to protect human rights, especially rights to have property from violating by other people or external forces. For this reason, Robert Nozick justifies the existence of state only if it protects people and their rights from being influenced by some sort of force, from theft and fraud, which means that the state exists to safeguard human rights . However, protecting human rights is the only function that a state is provided with; because if it does something more than protecting it would already mean that it violates rights of people, which is inadmissible, according to Nozick. In this book, Nozick largely speaks about the existence of libertarian rights, but he does not provide readers with the arguments for it. That’s why his views are considered somewhat different as compared to other modern political philosophers.
Speaking about Michael Sandel (1943-) it is necessary to emphasize that his name is also among the most prominent political philosophers of the modern world. Being a citizen of the USA, Sandel has taught in many famous universities, including his course at Harvard devoted to moral philosophy and justice became one of the most highly attended. Michael Sandel has also devoted a significant portion of his studies to liberalism; however, liberalism he examined was not like liberalism in the studies of Robert Nozick. Sandel’s liberalism is based on the rules of justice and fairness, where the central role is given to the individual rights of people . In his book “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” Michael Sandel defended the concepts described by Kant. Thus, he underlines the importance of having what is “right” higher than what is “good”. Sandel argues that it is more justified to rely on the rights of people, who compose the society, rather than on something, which may be considered good, because when something is good for one person, it might not necessarily be good for another person, or even violate the rights of the latter. Sandel’s book “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” have become a significant contribution to the modern studies of liberalism, as it clearly explains the role and the functions of liberalism and social justice.
Another prominent philosopher of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century is Iris Marion Young (1949-2006), who conducted several important studies on the theory of democracy, feminist theory and several theories of justice. Iris Young was a true and passionate defendant of human rights, and especially women’s human rights while being a very serious and reasonable political philosopher . Young was very much committed to social justice, probably even more than the two discussed above political philosophers. She also studied democracy and liberalism as the main manifestation of justice and equal rights of people in the state. Her book “Justice and the Politics of Difference”, which came out in 1990, was acknowledged by the international community for the arguments that were offered by Young to promote justice and protect rather than suppress differences between different social groups. The central argument of Young’s studies is that democracy is the best way to protect and promote justice.
The last political philosopher to speak about is John Dryzek, who has become famous in the sphere of political science for his significant contribution. He has been studying democratic theory and has devoted a lot of his studies to environmental policies. In contrast to Nozick, Sandel, and Young, Dryzek investigated “deliberative turn” existing in democratic theory . And besides concentrating on liberalism and democratic theory, he also focused on environmental politics. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is “Green States and Social Movements: Environmentalism in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway” published in 2003.
Bibliography Farrelly, C. “Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader”. Sage Publications. 2004.
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