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In this new, affordable edition of a long out-of-print yet foundational work on twentieth-century political philosophy, renowned philosopher C.B. Macpherson further explores the ideas that he advanced in such previous books as The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism.
In Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval, Macpherson modifies, extends, and clarifies the concepts of a person's power and the "transfer of powers," arguing that a twentieth-century liberal-democratic theory can be based on an adequate concept of human powers and capacities without insuperable difficulties. He argues that the neo-classical liberalisms of Chapman, Rawls, and Berlin fall short of accomplishing this goal largely because, in different ways, they fail to see or understate the transfer of powers.
Macpherson suggests that the liberal theory of property should be, and can be, fundamentally revised in order to accommodate new democratic demands. He establishes the need for a theory of democracy that steers clear of the disabling central defect of current liberal-democratic theory, while recovering the humanistic values that liberal democracy has always claimed. The result is one of the seminal works of twentieth-century political philosophy. A new Introduction by Frank Cunningham situates the work in a twenty-first-century context.