Here’s a totally arbitrary list of the top five political philosophers of all time:
5. The social contract philosophers (Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes):
I’ve placed the three of them in one spot, because even though they had completely different conceptions of humanity, they all took the same system and changed it according to their values. The social contract is an experiment in witch you imagine yourself starting society: if you think that people are naturally good, you wont make as many laws and wont think that having a strong government will be important, as if you think that people are naturally bad, you will make sure that there are systems to keep people from hurting each other.
4. Alexis De Tocqueville
On his trip to America in the 19th century, he wrote : “Democracy in America”, in witch he analysed the foundations of democraty, its people and how the system works. He was extremely lucid in his analysis and it still holds true today. From the tyrany that is possible in a democracy if not managed properly, to the rule of the majority on the minority, Tocqueville predicted it all.
3. Nicollò Machiavelli
In his writings in “the prince”, Machiavelli makes what might as well be called the first political science essay. In the 15th century, the book was considered evil, and was banned for many years. Even today we are reluctant to talk about this book because it is so controversial. Although controversial, many world leaders, and political analysts have read it and have said it had good knowledge as to how a leader must act. Some of the most controversial quotes from the book are: “the end justifies the means”, and “[as a leader] it is better to be feared than to be loved”
2. Karl Marx
The father of Marxism has been a huge influence in the 20th century, and has shaped the world we live in today. He has influenced Lenin in the 1917 Russian revolution, and of the creation of the USSR. Although communism seems to be disappearing, some of Marx’s ideas still live on today. His thesis that the proletariat is being exploited by the capitalist still influences today’s politics.
1. John Rawls
John Rawls “Theory of justice” has sprung up a new debate in political philosophy. Before the 1970’s, political philosophy debates had faded away, but he put the debate on the table once again. His influence is enormous, considering he has had many people respond to his work, and that people still do today. When talking about social justice, we have to talk about John Rawls, because every theory comes back to him. It is uncertain how long his thoughts will have an effect on thinkers all around the world, but it is safe to say that he is the most influential political philosopher of all time.