Most political debate is superficial. Just turn on cable news. Philosophy is for people who want to understand the deep questions. The goal of political philosophy is to determine the standards by which we judge different institutions good or bad, just or unjust.
Some people might think they don’t have much need of political philosophy: “Who cares about wishy-washy obtuse notions of justice? I’m a pragmatist. I just want to know what works.” But this isn’t a way of avoiding political philosophy; it’s a way of being dogmatic about it. Before we can just do “what works,” we have to know what counts as working.
This book serves as an introduction to some of the major theories of justice, to the arguments philosophers have made for and against these theories, and, ultimately, to how to be more thoughtful and rigorous in your own thinking.
Jason Brennan is Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business, and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He is the author of Markets without Limits, with Peter Jaworkski (Routledge Press, 2015); Compulsory Voting: For and Against, with Lisa Hill (Cambridge University Press, 2014); Why Not Capitalism? (Routledge Press, 2014); Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2012); The Ethics of Voting (Princeton University Press, 2011); and, with David Schmidtz, A Brief History of Liberty (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).