An Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy: A Question-Based Approach (Elements of Philosophy)

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9780742564138: An Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy: A Question-Based Approach (Elements of Philosophy)
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Social and political philosophy, unlike other fields and disciplines, involves conflict, disagreement, deliberation, and action. This text takes a new approach and understands philosophy not so much as a story of great thinkers or as a collection of philosophical positions but as a series of debates and disagreements in which students must participate. Adopting what may be called an 'active learning' method, Richard Schmitt, who has long taught social and political philosophy in the Ivy Leagues as well at state colleges, presents a range of problems and debates which engage the core question of freedom. Too often, students are bewildered, and then bored, by highly abstract philosophical questions because they are unable to connect those abstract issues to their own life experiences. This text immediately connects issues and experiences, and provides integrated, on-going questions to spark dialogue, whether in class settings or in the reader's own mind, and to help students form strong arguments with good reasons for their positions. In the course of examining different current controversies, the book develops theories of democracy, equality, the state, property, autonomy, and the role of morality in politics, all of which are standard for courses in social and political philosophy.

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About the Author:

Richard Schmitt Ph.D. is emeritus professor of philosophy at Brown University. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and has published widely in modern political philosophy, with special focus on Marxism and critical theory. His books include Introduction to Marx and Engels and Towards a New Socialism.

Review:

This terrific textbook includes all the philosophical resources necessary to offer an introduction to social and political philosophy that is especially welcoming for students with limited college preparation. Schmitt poses problems that are fresh, vivid, and immediately engaging, and he follows them up with searching questions designed to stimulate students. Schmitt advocates a question-based pedagogy that encourages students to reflect on the actual moral and political difficulties they encounter in daily life. With so many introductions to philosophy already available, it is hard to write one that is better. (Alison Jaggar, University of Colorado at Boulder)

Schmitt's Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy is refreshingly radical in a most philosophically illuminating manner that makes for a most wonderful learning experience in the classroom. This book masterfully speaks to how ordinary experiences occasion philosophical reflection. (Laurence Thomas, Syracuse University)

Clearly written, forcefully argued, filled with a wealth of instructive, student-friendly examples, this book is a welcome addition to resources for studying key issues in social and political philosophy. (Roger S. Gottlieb, author of A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and our Planet's Future)

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