A Moral Compass for a Complex World
by Philip Pettit
(W.W. Norton, 2014)
In this rigorous distillation of his political philosophy, Philip Pettit, author of the landmark work Republicanism, champions a simple standard for our most complex political judgments, offering a challenging ideal that nevertheless holds out a real prospect for social and democratic progress.
Whereas many thinkers define freedom as the absence of interference—we are left alone to do as we please—Pettit demands that in their basic life choices free persons should not even be subject to a power of interference on the part of others. This notion of freedom as non-domination offers a yardstick for gauging social and democratic progress and provides a simple, unifying standard for analyzing our most entangled political quandaries.
Pettit reaffirms the ideal, already present in the Roman Republic, of a free citizenry who enjoy equal status with one another, being individually protected by a law that they together control. After sketching a fresh history of freedom, he turns to the implications of the ideal for social, democratic, and international justice.
Part 1: The Idea of Freedom
1. The Past and Present of Freedom
2. Freedom with Depth
3. Freedom with Breath
Part 2: The Institutions of Freedom
4. Freedom and Justice
5. Freedom and Democracy
6. Freedom and Sovereignty
Appendix: An Overview of the Argument
Philip Pettit is Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University. He is the author of "Republicanism" (Oxford University Press, 1997) and "On the People's Terms. A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy" (Cambridge University Press, 2012).