The only critical edition of this founding text in the history of
political philosophy, including invaluable introduction and notes.
Its powerful critique of the institutions of government and support
for individual liberty of judgement raises profound questions about
the nature of our duty to others that is still relevant today. Uses
the first edition of 1793 which best reflects the close connection
between the dynamism of the text and its historical context,
capturing the full original power of his argument and imagination.
The Introduction gives a clear guide to the core argument of
Political Justice, showing how it developed and how it connects to
modern philosophical concerns, as well setting it in the context of
Godwin's life and the history of the period. Invaluable notes
explain historical references and allusions. 'To a rational being
there can be but one rule of conduct, justice, and one mode of
ascertaining that rule, the exercise of his understanding.'
Godwin's Political Justice is the founding text of philosophical
anarchism. Written in the immediate aftermath of the French
Revolution, it exemplifies the political optimism felt by many
writers and intellectuals. Godwin drew on enlightenment ideas and
his background in religious dissent for the principles of justice,
utility, and the sanctity of individual judgement that drove his
powerful critique of all forms of secular and religious authority.
He predicts the triumph of justice and equality over injustice, and
of mind over matter, and the eventual vanquishing of human frailty
and mortality. He also foresees the gradual elimination of
practices governing property, punishment, law, and marriage and the
displacement of politics by an expanded personal morality resulting
from reasoned argument and candid discussion. Political Justice
raises deep philosophical questions about the nature of our duty to
others that remain central to modern debates on ethics and
politics. This edition reprints the first-edition text of 1793, and
examines Godwin's evolving philosophy in the context of his life
and work. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's
Classics has made available the widest range of literature from
around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's
commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a
wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions
by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text,
up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Readership: Readers of political philosophy and history, students
of political thought, moral and political philosophy
(Utilitarianism, rights, perfectionism), history, especially the
French Revolution, English literature and romanticism.