Tue May 2, 2006

Sociology and Political Philosophy

I mentioned in posts or a comment a while ago that I was writing a survey piece on sociology and political philosophy, and several people expressed an interest in seeing it. Well, here’s a draft. I was invited to write it for the second edition of A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, which is being edited by Bob Goodin, Philip Pettit and Thomas Pogge. Like the first edition, there will be chapters on the relationship between political philosophy and disciplines like political science, economics, law, and so on, together with essays on problems, ideologies and debates in the field itself. The disciplinary essays are supposed to strike a balance: not too boringly encyclopedic (it’s a Companion, not a Census), but still informative to those unfamiliar with the field. I guess it’s also not supposed to intrude too much on the substantive terrain of other essays, such as those on “Power” or “Trust” or “Feminism” or “Marxism” and what have you. I also wanted to convey what’s distinctive about sociology when compared to disciplines like political science or economics.

Meeting these requirements made for a paper that was quite difficult to write. I’d very much welcome any comments, especially from the prospective audience of political philosophers. Please bear in mind that I’m not a political philosopher myself, so try not to wince too much when you see me wander way out of my depth into exciting areas of interdisciplinary inquiry.