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list of influential political philosophers

Which philospher thinks the most like you?(external link) While the list is incomplete, the quiz by Bryan W. Van Norden? helps you to determine which of this list of influential political philosophers you may enjoy. Feel free to add many more, and also bug Bryan to include more of the people listed here.

Criteria for inclusion of this list however vary, with more emphasis on the cutting edge in economics and including people influential on open politics itself.

Contrasting views is a good way to discover open politics itself. If you wish a complete list of political philosophers(external link) or good book references(external link) please refer links from en: wikipedia: political philosophy(external link). There is also a separate list of ethicists(external link) that is more open to religion and political leaders.

This coverage of political philosophy and of canonical or important thinkers, those who are good representatives of a particular school of thought, has been expanded by openpolitics.ca itself to include authors of works of fiction that are very widely referenced or read, important figures in religion and politics whose views became templates for those who followed, and others who strictly speaking were not doing what we call philosophy:

  • "Confucius? or Kong Fu?: The first thinker to relate ethics to the political order.
  • Gautama Buddha?: discovered Four Noble Truths? and the Noble Eightfold Path? to what has come to be called in English "enlightenment"
  • Lao Tzu?
  • Zeno? - there may be several of these!
  • Moses?: author or transcriber of the Ten Commandments?
  • Mozi?: Eponymous founder of the Mohist school, advocated a strict utiliarianism.
  • Plato?: First philosophical thinker to systematically analyze the hypothetical basis of a just and good society.
  • Aristotle?
  • Protagoras
  • Mencius? : One of the most important thinkers in the Confucian school, he is the first theorist to make a coherent argument for an obligation of rulers to the ruled.
  • Han Feizi? : The major figure of the Chinese Fajia (Legalist) school, advocated government that adhered to laws and a strict method of administration.
  • Cicero?
  • Jesus?, though his political views are thought to derive from earlier works of the Essene?s and of course Solomon? and other Biblical figures
  • Sextus Empiricus?
  • St. Augustine?: adapted Plato into a Christian framework
  • St. Thomas Aquinas?: adapted Aristotle into a Christian framework
  • Muhammad?, founder of Islam, likely the most influential human being ever to live, whose followers actually believe him to have been strictly human. Relayer of the Qu'ran?, dictated the hadith?, his biography (the sura?) is considered the guide for how Muslims should live
  • Niccolò Machiavelli?: First systematic analyses of: (1) how consent of a populace is negotiated between and among rulers rather than simply a naturalistic (or theological) given of the structure of society; (2) precursor to the concept of ideology in articulating the epistemological structure of commands and law.
  • Ibn Khaldun?, first known author of a theory of history and journalist?ic standards of integrity
  • Francis Bacon?
  • Thomas Hobbes?: Generally considered to have first articulated the concept of a social contract that justifies the actions of rulers (even where contrary to the individual interests of governed citizens).Also a detractor of imaginative rationality.
  • Benedict Spinoza?: a major influence on green politics
  • John Locke?: Described a social contract theory based on citizens' fundamental rights in the state of nature. Argued for a government with power limited to the protection of personal property. His arguments may have been deeply influential to the formation of the US Constitution?.
  • Baron de Montesquieu?
  • David Hume?
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau?
  • Immanuel Kant?: Argued that participation in civil society is undertaken not for self-preservation, as per Thomas Hobbes, but as a moral duty. First thinker who fully analyzed structure and meaning of obligation?.
  • Adam Smith?
  • Thomas Paine?
  • Edmund Burke?
  • Jeremy Bentham?: First thinker to coherently analyze social justice in terms of maximization of aggregate individual benefits. Founded the philosophical/ethical school of thought known as utilitarianism?. Also known for his Panopticon prison.
  • Georg W. F. Hegel?
  • Alexis de Tocqueville?
  • John Stuart Mill?: A utilitarian, and the person who named the system; he goes further than Bentham by laying the foundation for liberal democratic thought in general and modern, as opposed to classical, liberalism in particular.
  • William Gibbon?: best known as an historian? but was free with his views on the politics of the Roman Empire? and largely framed the way that its decline and fall are seen today. It may be fair to say that Marcus Aurelius was his major influence and so deserves credit as the "real philosopher"
  • Thomas Jefferson?
  • Napoleon?
  • Karl Marx?: In large part, added the historical dimension to an understanding of society, culture and economics. Created the concept of ideology in the sense of (true or false) beliefs that shape and control social actions. Analyzed the fundamental nature of social class? as a mechanism of governance and social interaction.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
  • John Dewey?
  • Mohandas Gandhi?: another major influence on green politics and theory of nonviolence, major reformer of Hinduism? and key influence on modern state of India?
    • his views were later analyzed and codified by Carol Moore? using systems theory? to develop a theory of peaceful secession?
  • George Orwell?
  • Aldous Huxley?
  • Antonio Gramsci?: Instigated the concepts hegemony? and social formation?. Fused the ideas of Marx, Engels, Spinoza and others within the so-called dominant ideology thesis (the ruling ideas of society are the ideas of its rulers).
    • Marshall McLuhan?'s parallel work held that communications media filtered rulers out who could not master them. See Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan?.
  • Herbert Marcuse?: A Frankfurt School? founder, helped fuse thought of Freud and Marx. Introduced the concept repressive desublimation, in which social control can operate not only by direct control, but also by manipulation of desire. Analyzed the role of advertising? and propaganda in societal consensus.
  • Karl Popper - advocate of strictly falsifiable facts and applicability of objectivist? and scientific rationality? in all areas of life.
  • Ayn Rand? for her parallel objectivist theory of moral values based on creative powers and personal integrity - major influence on libertarianism *E. O. Wilson? for sociobiology?
  • Leo Strauss? - founder of the neo-conservative? school in which, as in Marx, economics is primary, but neoclassical economics is the means of analysis of behaviour
    • Francis Fukuyama, most influential of his followers
    • Robert Kagan?
    • Bill Kristol?
    • Project for a New American Century? founders, not philosophers but very influential
  • Robert Lucas? was originator of the rational choice hypothesis? by which all players in markets were held to be using the theory under analysis to make their decisions
  • Hannah Arendt?: Primarily a historian?; Analyzed the roots of authoritarianism? and totalitarianism? and introduced the concept of the "banality of evil?" (how ordinary scientific and technocratic rationality comes to deplorable fruition).
  • John Rawls?: Introduced the concept of the Original position as an explanation for standards of social justice. Also published an influential criticism of utilitarianism.
  • B. F. Skinner? best known for his political work Walden Two? which applies behaviorism? to infrastructure?
  • Jane Goodall? for lifelong studies of chimpanzee? family and troop behaviour - now a UN Goodwill Ambassador? and very influential theorist on origins of human violence and warfare
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Michel Foucault?: extremely influential in the sociology of power? and queer theory?, history of the definition of madness? and sexual perversion? and their influence on public ethics and on the professions; with Thomas Szasz? and R. D. Laing?, very influential on theory of how perceptions of mad people? change through time and how they reflect social views;
  • Isaac Asimov? for the Three Laws of Robotics? and The Foundation Trilogy? speculative models
  • Frank Herbert? for the Dune? series and its analysis of how feudal? culture, drug dependence, martyr? roles, and sparse desert places reinforce each other
  • Ursula LeGuin? for her anarchist? and feminist? works of fiction, most notably Those Who Walk Away From Omelas?, and for her translation of the I Ching?
  • Jo Freeman?: feminist? originator of democratic structuring theory
  • Edward Said?
  • Ron Coleman: extremely influential in GPI and Gross National Happiness concepts
  • Lawrence Lessig: founder of Creative Commons
  • Guy Debord?: Moved a Marxist analysis of commodity fetishism? to the realm of consumption?, and looked at the relation between consumerism and dominant ideology formation.
  • Bernard Crick: most famous for In Defense of Politics, his analysis of politics as usual, and also political virtues he defended - considered a key defender of multiculturalism? as state policy
  • Robert Nozick?: Presented a rigorous defense of modern libertarianism.
  • Ray Anderson?: CEO of an innovative corporation and outspoken advocate of corporate social responsibility?
  • Jane Jacobs, best known as an urbanist? and predictor of decline in standards of rationality in science generally
  • Herman Daly? for his codification of green economics as continuing classical economics? focus on happiness and avoiding dead ends of Marxist and neoclassic theory
  • George Lakoff: originator of the moral politics theory by which family role model?s are held to be central in the creation of a political ideology, and the conceptual metaphor theories of experientialism and of imaginative rationality
  • Marilyn Waring? for her analysis of women's worth?
  • John McMurtry?
  • B. F. Skinner?
  • E. O. Wilson?
  • Jurgen Habermas?
  • Axel Honneth?
  • Karl Popper
  • Friedrich Hayek?
  • George Berkeley?
  • Margaret Somerville?
  • Tu Wei-Ming
  • Robert Axelrod
  • Amartya Sen? for his theory of Development as Freedom of choice and reconciliation of liberalism originating in Hindu, Islamic, Chinese and other "Eastern" ethical tradition?s with its traditional codifying in "the West"
  • many anonymous trolls who no one will ever know and truly never thank for writing the most widely read works of political philosophy on the Internet




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