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Political Philosophy

An introduction to the political concepts of major thinkers in western political philosophy.
Topics include:
  • Regimes
  • Justice
  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Obligation
  • Social Contract
  • State of Nature
  • Role of the State
  • Ethics
Image of the School of Athens with Plato and Aristotle in the center.

Philosopher Resources

Plato (Approx. 427 B.C.E.-347 B.C.E.)

Aristotle (384-322B.C.E)

Augustine of Hippo (354-430)


Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)


John Locke (1632-1704)

Montesquieu (1689-1755)


Voltaire (1694-1778)


David Hume (1711-1776)


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Adam Smith (1723-1790)


Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)


Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

The Federalists (works 1788)


Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876)

Karl Marx (1818-1883)


Frederick Engels (1820-1878)

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

Max Weber (1864-1920)

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)

John Rawls (1921-2002)

Robert Nozick (1938-2002)

Related Works

The Clouds by Aristophanes

Line image of a bust of Plato

Recommended Reading

Political Philosophy by Stephen B. Smith

An Introduction to Political Philosophy by Jonathan Wolff

The Worldly Philosophers by Robert L. Heilbroner

Online Resources

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

McMaster University: History of Economic Thought

The Basics of Philosophy

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Some Texts from Early Modern Philosophy

Online Library of Liberty


Social Theory Re-Wired


Open Online Courses

Yale: Introduction to Political Philosophy


Online Videos

School of Life  (Various Short Videos)

Moral Foundations of Politics (Professor Shapiro, Yale)

Labor Theory of Value

Important Concepts

Historical Materialism

Labor Theory of Value  (Investopedia)


Labor Theory of Value (Prychitko)

A Priori and A Posteriori (Baehr)

The Problem of Dirty Hands (Coady)

Enlightenment (Bristow)

The Natural Law Tradition (Murphy)

Social Contract Theory (C. Friend)

Contemporary Approaches to Social Contract (D'Agostino)

Understanding the General Will (Dagger)

State of Nature (Lacewing)

Political Legitimacy (Peter)


Other Philosopher's and Interesting Thinkers

Julien Offray de La Mettrie (1709-1751)

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834)


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945)

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)


Rene Descartes (1596-1650)


Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)


Denis Diderot (1713-1784)


Benjamin Constant (1767-1830)

David Ricardo (1772-1823)

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)


August Comte (1798-1857)

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)


Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)

Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921)


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)

John Dewey (1859-1952)


Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)


Carl Schmitt (1888-1985)


Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)


Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992)

Leo Strauss (1899-1973)


Karl Popper (1902-1994)

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)


H.L.A. Hart (1907-1992)


Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)


Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997)

Simone Weil (1909-1943)

Robert A. Dahl (1915-2014)


Joseph Cropsey (1919-2012)

Noam Chomsky (1928-present)

Jurgen Habermas (1929-present)

Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

Sara Ruddick (1935-2011)

Margaret Gilbert (1942-present)

Susan Haack (1945-present)

Susan Moller Okin (1946-2004)

James Tully (1946-present)

Martha Nussbaum (1947-present)

bell hooks (1952-present)

Cornel West (1953-present)

Judith Butler (1956-present)

"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato"

(Alfred North Whitehead, 1979)

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