Reconsidering C.B. MacPherson: From Possessive Individualism to Democratic Theory and Beyond

Reconsidering C.B. MacPherson: From Possessive Individualism to Democratic Theory and Beyond

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By Phillip Hansen
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2015
World Rights
384 Pages
ISBN 9781442630598
Published Nov 2015
Online discount: 25%
 $70.00    $52.50
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442630611
Published Jan 2016
Online discount: 24%
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C.B. Macpherson occupies an ambiguous place in contemporary political thought.  Though his work is well known, it remains on the margins of current democratic theory. That marginalization, Phillip Hansen argues, comes from our failure to appreciate the underlying philosophical dimension of Macpherson’s work.

Identifying and exploring Macpherson’s systematic critique of the liberal claim that the individual is the “proprietor of his own person or capacities, owing nothing to society for them,” Reconsidering C.B. Macpherson highlights his affinities to Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer, and the Frankfurt School.

This stimulating reappraisal illustrates the importance of Macpherson’s classic books, including The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism and Democratic Theory, and demonstrates how much his work has to offer to the future of political and social thought.

Phillip Hansen is a professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Regina.

Chapter One: Possessive Individualism as Critique: History, Ontology and the Roots of Liberalism
Chapter Two: Human Nature and Democratic Possibilities: Macpherson, Ontology and the Fate of Liberal Democracy
Chapter Three: Capitalism, Socialism, and Self-Development: Macpherson and/on Marx
Chapter Four: C.B. Macpherson, Democracy, and Democratic Theory I: Revisionist Liberalism and the Two Faces of Liberty
Chapter Five: C.B. Macpherson, Democracy, and Democratic Theory II: Human Rights, Democratic Expressions, and Democratic Models
Chapter Six: Political Theory, Social Science and Social Critique: C.B. Macpherson, Philosophy, and Methodology

“C.B. Macpherson was the most important and original Canadian political theorist – certainly of his generation, quite possibly ever. Reconsidering C.B. Macpherson is both the definitive defence of Macpherson’s project and an original and important intervention into contemporary political theory in its own right.”

James Ingram, Department of Political Science, McMaster University

“Hansen has done a splendid job of not only explaining the central ideas in Macpherson’s thought and relating them to the work of other significant theorists, but also giving the reader an interpretive key to viewing Macpherson’s work as a logical ‘whole’ by weaving together the interconnecting ideas in three of his major books: Possessive Individualism, Democracy in Alberta, and Democratic Theory.”

Richard Matthews, Department of Political Science, Lehigh University

‘The book serves as an excellent introduction for the more sophisticated student of political philosophy who is new to Macpherson… In effect, this book is a series of interesting meditations on Macpherson’s thought arguing for his continued importance.’

Jules Townshend, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books April 2016

‘Under Hansen’s skillful interpretative guidance, the reader is reintroduced to a thinker who confounds many of the stereotypes of Cold War-era Marxist theory…His remarkable achievement is to bring to life C.B. Macpherson’s thought and enduring legacy, his complex blend of traditional and critical philosophy.’

Dr. Lee Ward, Perspectives on Political Science March 2017

‘Magnificent study of C.B. Macpherson’s political thought… Well researched, splendidly written book.’

Richard K. Matthews, American Political Thought Spring 2017

C.B. Macpherson Prize from the Canadian Political Science Association.

(Canada) - Short-listed in 2016

Arts Award for Scholarly Writing awarded by the Saskatchewan Book Awards

(Canada) - Short-listed in 2017