What are the intellectual roots of Western liberalism, and what are its strengths and weaknesses? Our interviews on social and political philosophy recommend books that explore these and related questions from every angle.
On a general level two professors of politics, Gary Bass and John Tasioulas both choose their best (and very different) books on the subject of human rights. The philosopher Cecile Fabre chooses hers on war and the ethical dilemmas it throws up. Philosopher Carlos Fraenkel chooses his best books on philosophy in a divided world and Jonathan Wolff, professor of public policy at Oxford, chooses his best books on political philosophy.
Turning specifically to the liberal tradition, historian Eric Foner discusses the evolution of liberalism, focusing on American liberalism over the past 50 years. And Franklin Foer, editor of the New Republic, looks at the roots of liberalism, with a slightly longer perspective. Peter Berkowitz, fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford, talks about liberty and morality. Professor Timothy Stanton chooses his best books on toleration and John Gray, emeritus professor of political thought at the LSE, looks at critiques of utopia and apocalypse. Journalist Trevor Phillips gives us his best books on equality and Will Hutton his on fairness and equality. Maria Sveland talks about feminism, Kurt Barling looks at racism and Kwame Anthony Appiah at honour.
Gary Gutting looks at Foucault and Terrell Carver at Marx and Marxism, arguing that Marx was, in mid-19th-century terms, a liberal. US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discusses his intellectual influences. Henry Hardy chooses his best books on Isaiah Berlin.
If killing is wrong, how can going to war be justified? Is it always wrong to kill civilians? If a Nazi soldier were billeted in your home, should you respond when he greets you? Philosopher Cécile Fabre chooses Five Books that help explore the profound ethical dilemmas of war.
“Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same,” wrote Michel Foucault; a brilliant transdisciplinarian whose work spanned philosophy, history, social theory and literary criticism. He mined past ways of thinking so as to see present-day assumptions and practices afresh, explains the philosopher Gary Gutting.
Few people have had their ideas reinvented as many times as the German intellectual and political activist, Karl Marx. Professor of political theory, Terrell Carver, takes us through the most influential books, in English, about Marx, Marxism and his friend, publicist and financial backer, Friedrich Engels.
British philosopher Jonathan Wolff chooses five books by thinkers who have shaped the field. He explores the experiences that influenced each writer, saying ‘it’s very rare for philosophers to say very much about their history and what brought them to the views they have’.
Principles of Social Justice
by David Miller
The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger
by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
by Amartya Sen
Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten The World Economy
by Raghuram G Rajan
by Owen Jones
What is the difference between fairness and equality? In contemporary capitalist societies, some inequality is inevitable and desirable. But the rewards for the few at the top have soared while the rest have been squeezed. Is this fair? We need a new social contract, says the author and columnist
Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle
by Gene Sharp
Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Postcommunist Countries
by Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik
Why Civil Resistance Works
by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J Stephan
People Power and Political Change
by April Carter
The Lady and the Peacock
by Peter Popham