Political Thought

Our titles in political thought encompass the ideals of the classical liberal tradition, such as self-government, the rule of law, and constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press. The collection includes foundational writings from such thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Bernard Mandeville, and Alexis de Tocqueville, as well as twentieth-century perspectives from writers like Michael Oakeshott and Bertrand de Jouvenel. These titles represent thinkers from different times and contexts, offering the reader a variety of texts that have helped shape the ideas of liberty in today’s society.

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  • The Perfectibility of Man

    by John Passmore

    A reviewer of the original edition in 1970 of The Perfectibility of Man well summarizes the scope and significance of this renowned work by one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century: “Beginning with an analytic discussion of the various ways in which perfectibility has been interpreted, Professor Passmore traces its long history from the Greeks to the present…

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  • A Plea for Liberty

    by Thomas Mackay

    This collection of essays was originally published in 1891, at a time when the modern welfare state was first taking shape. The theoretical and empirical contributions are fine examples of the classical liberal tradition in British thought.

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  • Politica

    by Johannes Althusius

    Drawing deeply from Aristotle and biblical teaching, Politica presents a unique vision of the commonwealth as a harmonious ordering of natural associations. According to Althusius, the purpose of the state is to protect and encourage social life. The family is the most natural of human associations, and all other unions derive from it. Power and authority properly grow from more…

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  • Political Economy, Concisely

    by Anthony de Jasay

    Written for the general reader and specialist alike, the essays collected here articulate a convincing classical liberal view of the world, with a no-nonsense approach to modern economic theory. Many of the articles are collected here for the first time in book form. Jasay’s aim is to clarify basic concepts in the realm of political and economic philosophy, such as…

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  • Political Philosophy, Clearly

    by Anthony de Jasay

    Anthony de Jasay, one of the most independent thinkers and influential libertarian political philosophers of our time, challenges the reigning paradigms justifying modern democratic government. The articles collected in Political Philosophy, Clearly delve deeply into the realm of political thought and philosophical criticism. A reader who is interested in a philosophical, yet clear, jargon-free account of such fundamental topics as…

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  • Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730–1805

    by Ellis Sandoz

    The early political culture of the American republic was so deeply influenced by the religious consciousness of the New England preachers that it was often through the political sermon that the political rhetoric of the period was formed, refined, and transmitted. Political sermons such as the fifty-five collected in this work are unique to America, in both kind and significance.

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  • Political Writings

    by Samuel Johnson

    The eighteenth century produced a remarkable array of thinkers whose influence in the development of free societies and free institutions is incalculable. Among these thinkers were Mandeville, Hutcheson, Smith, Hume, and Burke; their time is known as the Age of Johnson. Samuel Johnson: Political Writings contains twenty-four of Johnson’s essays on the great social, economic, and political issues of his…

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  • The Politicization of Society

    by Kenneth S. Templeton, Jr.

    Fourteen essays explore the central problem of modern society—the decline of free institutions and the growth of the state. Among the essays are “State and Society,” by Felix Morley; “The Monstrosity of Government,” by John Lukacs; and “The Guaranteed Economy and Its Future,” by Jonathan R. T. Hughes.

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  • Popular Government

    by Sir Henry Sumner Maine

    Sir Henry Sumner Maine was one of the great intellects of the Victorian era. In Popular Government he examines the political institutions of men. He saw that popular governments, unless they are founded upon and consonant with the evolutionary development of a people, will crumble from their own excesses. George W. Carey is Professor of Government at Georgetown University and…

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  • The Present Age

    by Robert Nisbet

    The Present Age challenges readers to reexamine the role of the United States in the world since World War I. Nisbet criticizes Americans for isolationism at home and discusses the gutting of educational standards, the decay of education, the presence of government in all facets of life, the diminished connection to community, and the prominence of economic arrangements driving everyday…

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  • The Principles of Ethics

    by Herbert Spencer

    Though almost forgotten today, Herbert Spencer ranks as one of the foremost individualist philosophers. His influence in the latter half of the nineteenth century was immense. Spencer’s name is usually linked with Darwin’s, for it was he who penned the phrase, “survival of the fittest.” Today in America he is most often admired for his trenchant essays in The Man

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  • The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy

    by William Paley

    This classic work by William Paley was one of the most popular books in England and America in the early nineteenth century. Its significance lies in the fact that it marks an important point at which eighteenth-century “whiggism” began to be transformed into nineteenth-century “liberalism.” First published in 1785, Paley’s Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy was originally based on…

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