This is a book primarily for the general reader without a background in the study of ethics, philosophy or politics To help them think about the nature of morality or ethics and the relationship between them and politics. In modern western democracies a common assumption seems to be that politics is a dirty game with which no sane reasonably moral human being would have anything to do. In the era of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin it may be thought the question of the relevance of Ethics to Politics has been settled decisively in the negative. However the author remains stubbornly convinced that the two should be firmly linked in a well-run Liberal Democracy. In this book I make a plea for a version of the classic position that politics and ethics are intimately related and that a good life must be involved in some political activity and might even be that of a politician. It will be for the reader to reach their own conclusion on the matter by the end of the book!
The book is not designed as a textbook for students on a formal course in Philosophy. Some or all of it might well form the basis for discussions in less formal settings such as U3A (University of the Third Age), WEA, pub philosophy and youth groups. The assumption is that readers are open-minded: are not so committed to a moral and religious position that they wish to impose it on others, and to work issues out for themselves, rather than be given cut and dried answers.
Part 1 looks at the foundations of individual moral action.
Part 2 is concerned with the morality of political action and considers the interaction between morals and politics.
In a later volume it is intended to apply moral ideas to the choices we make in our private lives, as consumers and in our leisure time, considers the choices we make about the way we obtain a living and asks how far life styles may legitimately reflect subjective preferences and be made more satisfying for individuals.
Part I The Basis of Ethics
Chapter 1 Introduction
The Relevance of Ethics
What is an Ethical Problem?
A Secular Approach
The Role of Logic, Science and Common Sense
Chapter 2 What is the Good?
The Good Life or Being Good?
The Meaning of Happiness
Why Should We Be Good?
What Is The Good Life?
My Good Life versus Yours?
Chapter 3 Basic Ethical Concepts
Purposes in Life
Self Development: Virtues
Relationships with People
Relationships with Animals and the Planet
Part II Public Life
Chapter 4 Ethics & Democracy
What is Politics?
Ethics, Interests and Politics
Democracy and Compromise
Localism, Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism
Democratic Rights and Duties
Chapter 5 Public Policies
Freedom and Equality
Chapter 6 Ethics for Politicians
Morality of Politics
Reasons of State
War & Politics
Chapter 7 Ethics for Citizens
Who Should Count?
Duties of Citizens
Right of Rebellion
Secularism / Tolerance
Schools of Ethical Thinking
This copyright material may not be reproduced without permission. It is a draft of the contents and preface of the book I am working on at present.
If you would like to read and comment on a draft of the book please contact me through the feedback page.
A Turkish Edition of Politics the Basics (5th. ed.) is to be published by Utopya Yayinevi.
A Portuguese translation of Politics: the Basics has now been published in Brazil as Polίtica, Editora Saraiva, Sao Paulo, 1st Brazilian ed., 2016.
The Fifth Edition of Politics: the Basics was published by Routledge in September 2014.
Nigel has updated the book and has made some interesting innovations.
If you run a class which might use the book, let us know using the feedback button on this site and we will arrange to send you a free inspection copy.
The fourth edition of Politics: the Basics has been published in Arabic by the Arab Network for Publishing and Research based in Beirut, Lebanon.
Politics: The Basics, 4th Edition is to be translated by Jiangsu People's Publishing Ltd into Chinese (simplified) for distribution in Mainland China.
|Conservative MP Steve Baker puts Politics: the Basics first on his recommended reading list for newcomers to the Conservative Candidates List.|
"Politics, Political Theory, Political Philosophy" Thinking Philosophy (U3A Philosophy Network), Summer 2010, 11-14
U3A Philosophy Group News
Details of U3A Poole Philosophy Workshop classes in the summer and in early autumn are now on the site. The schedule is subject to amendment and has been revised since first posted. Please check on this site to ensure you have the latest version.
Unfortunately there will be no more classes led by Jayne because of her move to Kent.