The eyeball test

The eyeball test

Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World

by Philip Pettit

W.W. Norton & Co. (Wiley), $33.95 hb, 278 pp, 9780393063974

In a recent Prospect interview, distinguished Princeton and ANU scholar Philip Pettit described political philosophy as a conversation around various themes. Some voices focus on power or freedom, others on democracy or the nature of the state. The conversation should extend beyond the academy, argued Pettit, to embrace public intellectuals, journalists, commentators, political scientists, activists, and government. 

Above all, Pettit suggests, political philosophy should be engaged. Aim to understand and move the world. Political philosophy is a guide to what we can do, alone and together. Hence Just Freedom, a volume with intentions captured in the subtitle: A Moral Compass for a Complex World. Amid the noise of political life, Pettit offers principles to shape decisions. For him, justice is freedom, freedom justice. Be clear about what constitutes justice, and you have a robust basis for decisions about life, political communities, and global sovereignty.

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Published in August 2014 no. 363
Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis is Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne, and has been Vice-Chancellor of the university since 2005. Professor Davis co-chaired the Australia 2020 summit in 2008. His publications include The Australian Policy Handbook (Allen & Unwin, 2007), The Future of Australian Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2000), and Are You Being Served?: State, Citizens and Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2001). His recent Boyer Lectures are now available: The Republic of Learning (ABC Books).

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