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Democratic Theory

Essays in Retrieval

C.B. Macpherson
Introduction by Frank Cunningham

Publication Date - November 2014

ISBN: 9780195447798

272 pages
5.2 x 8.0 inches

A new, affordable edition of a long out-of-print yet foundational work on political philosophy, featuring a new introduction by Frank Cunningham of the University of Toronto


In this new, affordable edition of a long out-of-print yet foundational work on twentieth-century political philosophy, renowned philosopher C.B. Macpherson further explores the ideas that he advanced in such previous books as The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism.

In Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval, Macpherson modifies, extends, and clarifies the concepts of a person's power and the "transfer of powers," arguing that a twentieth-century liberal-democratic theory can be based on an adequate concept of human powers and capacities without insuperable difficulties. He argues that the neo-classical liberalisms of Chapman, Rawls, and Berlin fall short of accomplishing this goal largely because, in different ways, they fail to see or understate the transfer of powers.

Macpherson suggests that the liberal theory of property should be, and can be, fundamentally revised in order to accommodate new democratic demands. He establishes the need for a theory of democracy that steers clear of the disabling central defect of current liberal-democratic theory, while recovering the humanistic values that liberal democracy has always claimed. The result is one of the seminal works of twentieth-century political philosophy. A new Introduction by Frank Cunningham situates the work in a twenty-first-century context.

About the Author(s)

C.B. Macpherson (1911-1987) was professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Widely regarded as Canada's preeminent political theorist of the twentieth century, he was the author of numerous books, including The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy and The Real World of Democracy, and was named to the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour.

Table of Contents

    Introduction to the Wynford Edition
    I. The Maximization of Democracy
    II. Democratic Theory: Ontology and Technology
    1. The Race between Ontology and Technology
    2. Western Democratic Ontology: (1) The Individualist Base
    3. Western Democratic Ontology: (2) The Egalitarian Complement
    4. Technology, Scarcity, and Democracy
    III. Problems of a Non-Market Theory Of Democracy
    1. Two Concepts of Power: Extractive and Developmental
    2. Power and Capacities
    3. The Measurement of Powers
    4. Impediments and their Measurement
    5. The Maximization of Aggregate Powers
    IV. Revisionist Liberalism
    1. Thee Lesson of Empiricism
    2. Chapman's Revisionist Liberalism
    3. Rawls's Distributive Justice
    V. Berlin's Division of Liberty
    1. Negative Liberty
    2. Positive Liberty
    3. An Alternative Division of Liberty
    VI. A Political Theory of Property
    1. Modern Property: A Product of Capitalist Society
    2. Mid-Twentieth-Century Changes in the Concept of Property
    3. An Impending Change in the Concept of Property
    4. Beyond Property as Access to the Means of Labour
    VII. Elegant Tombstones: A Note on Friedman's Freedom
    VIII. Revolution and Ideology in the Late Twentieth Century
    IX. Post-Liberal-Democracy?
    X. Market Concepts in Political Theory
    XI. The Deceptive Task of Political Theory
    XII. Servants and Labourers in Seventeenth-Century England
    1. Seventeenth-Century Usage Re-Examined
    2. The General Rule and Special Cases
    XIII. Natural Rights In Hobbes And Locke
    1. Introduction
    2. Natural Rights in Hobbes
    3. Natural Rights in Locke
    4. Hobbes, Locke, and Human Rights
    5. The Near Future of Natural Rights and Human Rights
    XIV. Hobbes's Bourgeois Man