front cover of Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict
Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict
Edited by David Johnston, Nadia Urbinati, and Camila Vergara
University of Chicago Press, 2017
More than five hundred years after Machiavelli wrote The Prince, his landmark treatise on the pragmatic application of power remains a pivot point for debates on political thought. While scholars continue to investigate interpretations of The Prince in different contexts throughout history, from the Renaissance to the Risorgimento and Italian unification, other fruitful lines of research explore how Machiavelli’s ideas about power and leadership can further our understanding of contemporary political circumstances.
With Machiavelli on Liberty and Conflict, David Johnston, Nadia Urbinati, and Camila Vergara have brought together the most recent research on The Prince, with contributions from many of the leading scholars of Machiavelli, including Quentin Skinner, Harvey Mansfield, Erica Benner, John McCormick, and Giovanni Giorgini. Organized into four sections, the book focuses first on Machiavelli’s place in the history of political thought: Is he the last of the ancients or the creator of a new, distinctly modern conception of politics? And what might the answer to this question reveal about the impact of these disparate traditions on the founding of modern political philosophy? The second section contrasts current understandings of Machiavelli’s view of virtues in The Prince. The relationship between political leaders, popular power, and liberty is another perennial problem in studies of Machiavelli, and the third section develops several claims about that relationship. Finally, the fourth section explores the legacy of Machiavelli within the republican tradition of political thought and his relevance to enduring political issues.

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The Medieval Constitution of Liberty
Political Foundations of Liberalism in the West
Alexander William Salter and Andrew T. Young
University of Michigan Press, 2023

Why did enduring traditions of economic and political liberty emerge in Western Europe and not elsewhere? Representative democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law are crucial for establishing a just and prosperous society, which we usually treat as the fruits of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, as Western European societies put the Dark Ages behind them.

In The Medieval Constitution of Liberty, Salter and Young point instead to the constitutional order that characterized the High Middle Ages. They provide a historical account of how this constitutional order evolved following the fall of the Western Roman Empire. This account runs from the settlements of militarized Germanic elites within the imperial frontiers, to the host of successor kingdoms in the sixth and seventh centuries, and  through the short-lived Carolingian empire of the late eighth and ninth centuries and the so-called “feudal anarchy” that followed its demise. Given this unique historical backdrop, Salter and Young consider the resulting structures of political property rights. They argue that the historical reality approximated a constitutional ideal type, which they term polycentric sovereignty. Salter and Young provide a theoretical analysis of polycentric sovereignty, arguing that bargains between political property rights holders within that sort of constitutional order will lead to improvements in governance.


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Minding Justice
Laws That Deprive People with Mental Disability of Life and Liberty
Christopher Slobogin
Harvard University Press, 2006

Minding Justice offers a comprehensive examination of the laws governing the punishment, detention, and protection of people with mental disabilities. Using famous cases such as those of John Hinckley, Andrea Yates, and Theodore Kaczynski, the book analyzes the insanity defense and related doctrines, the role of mental disability in sentencing, the laws that authorize commitment of "sexual predators" and others thought to be a threat to society, and the rules that restrict participation of mentally compromised individuals in the criminal and treatment decision-making processes.

Arguing that current legal doctrines are based on flawed premises and ignorance of the impairments caused by mental disability, Christopher Slobogin makes a case for revamping the insanity defense, abolishing the "guilty but mentally ill" verdict, prohibiting execution of people with mental disability, restructuring preventive detention, and redefining incompetency. A milestone in criminal mental health law, Minding Justice provides innovative solutions to ancient problems associated with criminal responsibility, protection of society from "dangerous" individuals, and the state's authority to act paternalistically.


front cover of Monitored
Business and Surveillance in a Time of Big Data
Peter Bloom
Pluto Press, 2019
Our contemporary age is confronted by a profound contradiction: on the one hand, our lives as workers, consumers and citizens have become ever more monitored by new technologies. On the other, big business and finance become increasingly less regulated and controllable.

What does this technocratic ideology and surveillance-heavy culture reveal about the deeper reality of modern society? Monitored investigates the history and implications of this modern accountability paradox. Peter Bloom reveals pervasive monitoring practices which mask how at its heart, the elite remains socially and ethically out of control.

Challenging their exploitive 'accounting power', Bloom demands that the systems that administer our lives are oriented to social liberation and new ways of being in the world.

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Movement and the Ordering of Freedom
On Liberal Governances of Mobility
Hagar Kotef
Duke University Press, 2015
We live within political systems that increasingly seek to control movement, organized around both the desire and ability to determine who is permitted to enter what sorts of spaces, from gated communities to nation-states. In Movement and the Ordering of Freedom, Hagar Kotef examines the roles of mobility and immobility in the history of political thought and the structuring of political spaces. Ranging from the writings of Locke, Hobbes, and Mill to the sophisticated technologies of control that circumscribe the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, this book shows how concepts of freedom, security, and violence take form and find justification via “regimes of movement.” Kotef traces contemporary structures of global (im)mobility and resistance to the schism in liberal political theory, which embodied the idea of “liberty” in movement while simultaneously regulating mobility according to a racial, classed, and gendered matrix of exclusions.

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