Classical Debates for the 21st Century: Rethinking Political Thought

Classical Debates for the 21st Century: Rethinking Political Thought

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By Thomas O. Hueglin
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2008
World Rights
297 Pages
ISBN 9781551118475
Published Feb 2008
Online discount: 15%
 $36.95    $31.41
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442606852
Published Feb 2008
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Classical Debates for the 21st Century distinctively reconsiders the canon of political thought, in the context of current world events, by presenting debates between the ideas of classical theorists. It is through these debates that Thomas O. Hueglin argues that exclusive state sovereignty, individual citizenship, and majority rule have become questionable categories of political theory and practice in a globalizing world. To a large extent, the classical canon of political thought has been constructed in order to give legitimacy to these categories, but it is time to rethink the validity of that canon, and to search for alternative voices and traditions that emphasize plurality, shared sovereignty, and complex patterns of representation and decision-making. This does not mean that the familiar names in the classical canon have to disappear. But they should be examined more critically for their continued importance, and additional theorists thus far neglected should complement them.

Each chapteris organized as a debate between two theorists with contrasting views and approaches. At the end of each chapter, there is a critical evaluation of these political theorists’ continued or renewed relevance.

Thomas O. Hueglin is Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. He has published widely on federalism and the history of political thought. He has also served as UN adviser to the Constitutional Drafting Commission of the Republic of Yemen.


  1. Time to Rethink
  2. Method of Inquiry: Descartes v. Vico
  3. Nature of the Political: Plato v. Aristotle
  4. Governance: Thomas v. Marsilius
  5. Class Politics: Machiavelli's Prince v. The Discourses
  6. Sovereignty: Hobbes v. Althusius
  7. State and Society: Locke v. Montesquieu
  8. Power of the Majority: Rousseau v. Tocqueville
  9. Human Rights: Burke (and Rousseau) v. Wollstonecraft
  10. Modernity and Beyond: Nietzsche v. Marx




Thomas O. Hueglin wants to ‘expand the canon’ in two senses: to pluralize and appreciate the complexity of core concepts in political theory, and also to give attention to unjustly neglected thinkers such as Althusius. Political philosophy is a dialogical enterprise at its very heart, hence it is entirely apt that Hueglin structures the book according to a series of philosophical dialogues. Hueglin is acutely attuned to novel aspects of contemporary political life, and his well-crafted theoretical dialogues come to life in response to these new political realities. The book is very learned, is structured in an ingenious way, and is full of great punch lines.”

Ronald Beiner, University of Toronto

Thomas O. Hueglin has written an innovative text that will captivate both instructors and students alike. His analyses of selected pairs of theorists are incisive and open up new perspectives on contested concepts and orientations in the history of political thought.

Philip Abbott, Wayne State University