Will Kymlicka

Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction (First Edition)

Oxford University Press, 1990. International Student Edition, 1994. 321 pp.
Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Polish, French, Japanese, Macedonian.

This important new book provides a critical introduction to the rapidly growing literature on theories of justice and community. Each chapter covers a major school of contemporary political thought--utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, Marxism, communitarianism, and feminism--while discussing the work of the most influential contemporary Anglo-American theorists, including G. A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Carol Gilligan, R.M. Hare, Catherine Mackinnon, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, John Roemer, Michael Sandel, and Charles Taylor.

By showing how each of these thinkers interprets the idea of treating people as equals, Kymlicka highlights the key similarities and differences in their modes of thought. He demonstrates how viewing different theories in terms of this "egalitarian plateau" can help to clarify traditional philosophical disputes over the meaning of such concepts as rights, freedom, the common good, exploitation, and justice. Written in a lively, non-technical style that is accessible to students approaching the subject for the first time, this book will be useful and important reading in a wide variety of courses in political science, philosophy, and legal studies.

...a significant milestone in the renaissance of political philosophy...

James Child, Philosophical Quarterly

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Utilitarianism
  3. Liberal Equality
  4. Libertarianism
  5. Marxism
  6. Communitarianism
  7. Feminism


  • Excerpted (Chapter 7) in John Arthur and William H. Shaw (eds.) Social and Political Philosophy (Prentice-Hall, 1991), pp. 415-19.
  • Excerpted (Chapter 7) in John Arthur (ed.) Morality and Moral Controversies, 4th Edition (Prentice-Hall, 1996); and in 5th Edition (1999); and in 6th Edition (forthcoming).
  • Excerpted (Chapter 5) in Nigel Warburton et al (eds.) Reading Political Philosophy (Routledge, 2000).
  • Excerpted (Chapter 4) in Peter Vallentyne and Hillel Steiner (eds.) Left-Libertarianism and its Critics: The Contemporary Debates (Palgrave, New York, 2000), pp. 295-321.
  • Excerpted (Chapter 6) and translated into French in André Berten, Pablo da Silveira et Hervé Pourtois (eds.) Libéraux et Communautariens (Presses Universitaries de France, 1997), pp. 275-86.
  • Excerpted (Chapter 3) and translated into Russian in O. Nazarova (ed.) Contemporary Liberalism (Intellectual Bookhouse, Moscow, 1998), pp. 138-190.
  • Chapter 6 translated into Persian in Ghabasat Journal, No. 5, Spring 1377 [1998]