27 Political Philosophy Books: A Reading List to Help You Understand the World

by Mike Sellers | Last Updated: November 20, 2018

The Politics

by Aristotle
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The Republic

by Plato
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City of God

by St. Augustine
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The Prince

by Machiavelli
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by Thomas Hobbes
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Second Treatise on Civil Government

by John Locke
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A Letter Concerning Toleration

by John Locke
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The First and Second Discourses

by Rousseau
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On the Social Contract

by Rousseau
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An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?

Critique of Practical Reason

Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Moral

Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Intent

Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch

Adam Smith and markets

Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society.

Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population.

Mandeville, Fable of the Bees.

Muller, The Mind and the Market.

Smith, A Theory of the Moral Sentiments.———,

The Wealth of Nations.

Voltaire, Letter VI, “On the Presbyterians.”

Montesquieu and the American Founding

Hamilton, Report on the Subject of Manufactures.

Jay, Hamilton, and Madison, The Federalist.Papers

Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: Writings (letters, autobiography, Notes on the State of Virginia , and addresses).

Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws.




A Theory of Justice

by John Rawls
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John Rawls’s 1971 A Theory of Justice developed a theory of distributive justice based on two principles: that a person should have the most extensive basic liberty compatible with similar liberty for all (i.e., liberalism) and that social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both: (i) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged, and (ii) attached to offices open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity. Hence, society is to be organized so that inequalities in wealth are not only to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged but also attached to positions where everyone has a fair chance.

Is it just for one man to enjoy the fruits of life’s labors and another to starve? Would we all be better off if some of us gave up some of our liberties in order to ensure everyone else had some income and food? These are questions you’ll explore as you read John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, a highly influential text on welfare liberalism.

For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto

by Murray Rothbard
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