The Public Interest

The New Political Theory

Marc F. Plattner

Summer 1975

DURING most of the post-war period, the status of political theory within the philosophy departments of American universities could hardly have been lower. These departments have been dominated by a school of thought which has inherited from positivism the belief that the natural sciences provide the model of knowledge, and that mathematics and (mathematical) logic are the favored tools for all inquiry. Given these methodological predilections, political philosophy fell into a condition of relative neglect. In fact, there was a widespread belief that all substantive social and political theory was dead. As a result, the work that was being done in academic departments of philosophy was virtually ignored by those who were seriously concerned with substantive social and political issues, and vice versa.

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