Philip Pettit

Philip Noel Pettit AC (born 1945) is an Irish philosopher and political theorist. He is Laurence Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University and also Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University.[1] He was a Guggenheim Fellow.[2]

Philip Pettit

Philip Noel Pettit

1945 (age 73–74)
Ballygar, Ireland
  • Irish
  • Australian
Alma materMaynooth College
Queen's University, Belfast
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolCivic republicanism
InstitutionsAustralian National University
Princeton University
Main interests
Political philosophy


He was educated at Garbally College, the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (BA, LPh, MA) and Queen's University, Belfast (PhD). He was a lecturer at University College, Dublin, a research fellow at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and professor at the University of Bradford.[3] He was for many years professorial fellow in social and political theory at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. He is the recipient of numerous honours, including an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland. He was keynote speaker at Graduate Conference, University of Toronto.[4]

Pettit defends a version of civic republicanism in political philosophy. His book Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government provided the underlying justification for political reforms in Spain under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.[5] Pettit detailed his relationship with Zapatero in his A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero's Spain, co-authored with José Luis Martí.[6]

Pettit holds that the lessons learned when thinking about problems in one area of philosophy often constitute ready-made solutions to problems faced in completely different areas. Views he defends in philosophy of mind give rise to the solutions he offers to problems in metaphysics about the nature of free will, and to problems in the philosophy of the social sciences, and these in turn give rise to the solutions he provides to problems in moral philosophy and political philosophy. His corpus as a whole was the subject of a series of critical essays published in Common Minds: Themes from the Philosophy of Philip Pettit (Oxford University Press, 2007).[7]

Affiliations and honours

  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009)[8]
  • Honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy (2010)[9]
  • Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy (2013)[10]
  • Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (1987)[11]
  • Member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS[12]
  • Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours (Australia)[13]

Selected bibliography


  • The Concept of Structuralism: a Critical Analysis (1975)
  • Judging justice: an introduction to contemporary political philosophy (1980)
  • Rawls: 'A Theory of Justice' and its critics (1990) with Chandran Kukathas
  • The Common Mind; an essay on psychology, society and politics (1993)
  • Not Just Deserts. A Republican Theory of Criminal Justice (ISBN 978-0-19-824056-3) with John Braithwaite[14]
  • Republicanism: a theory of freedom and government (1997)
  • Three Methods of Ethics: a debate (1997) with Marcia Baron and Michael Slote
  • A Theory of Freedom: from psychology to the politics of agency (2001)
  • Rules, Reasons and Norms: selected essays (2002)
  • The Economy of Esteem: an essay on civil and political society (2004) with Geoffrey Brennan
  • Mind, Morality, and Explanation: Selected Collaborations (with Frank Jackson and Michael Smith) (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  • Made with Words: Hobbes on Language, Mind, and Politics (2007)
  • "Joining the Dots" in Common Minds: Themes from the Philosophy of Philip Pettit (2007) edited by Geoffrey Brennan, Robert E. Goodin, Frank Jackson and Michael Smith
  • A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero's Spain (2010) with José Luis Martí
  • Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents. (2011) with Christian List
  • On The People's Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy. (2012)
  • Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World. (2015)
  • The Robust Demands of the Good: Ethics with Attachment, Virtue, and Respect. (2015)

Chapters in books

  • Pettit, Philip (2004), "The common good", in Dowding, Keith; Pateman, Carole; Goodin, Robert E., Justice and democracy: essays for Brian Barry, Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 25–39, ISBN 9780521836951.
  • Pettit, Philip (2009), "Freedom in the spirit of Sen", in Morris, Christopher, Amartya Sen, Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 91–114, ISBN 9780521618069


  1. ^ "Philip Pettit: Homepage". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  2. ^ "Philip Pettit - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Philip Pettit". Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  4. ^ [1] Archived 20 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "El maestro Pettit examina al alumno Zapatero" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  6. ^ "The reading list" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  7. ^ "Common Minds - Geoffrey Brennan; Robert Goodin; Frank Jackson; Michael Smith - Oxford University Press". 19 July 2007. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Fellos List - ASSA". Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  12. ^ Fundacion IDEAS website Archived 15 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 13 March 2015. (in Spanish)
  13. ^ "PETTIT, Philip Noel". Australian Honours Search Facility, Dept of Prime Minister & Cabinet. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  14. ^ See "Republican Criminology and Victim Advocacy: Comment" for an article concerning the book in Law and Society Review, Vol. 28, No. 4 (1994), pp. 765–776.

Further reading

  • Dimova-Cookson, Maria (2012), "Republicanism, philosophy of freedom, and the history of ideas: an interview with Philip Pettit.", in Browning, Gary; Dimova-Cookson, Maria; Prokhovnik, Raia, Dialogues with contemporary political theorists, Houndsmill, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 155–169, ISBN 9780230303058

External links

1945 in Ireland

Events from the year 1945 in Ireland.

1945 in philosophy

1945 in philosophy

1978 in philosophy

1978 in philosophy

2008 in philosophy

2008 in philosophy

Classical republicanism

Classical republicanism, also known as civic republicanism or civic humanism, is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity, especially such classical writers as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero. Classical republicanism is built around concepts such as civil society, civic virtue and mixed government.


A collective is a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together to achieve a common objective. Collectives can differ from cooperatives in that they are not necessarily focused upon an economic benefit or saving, but can be that as well.

The term "collective" is sometimes used to describe a species as a whole—for example, the human collective.

For political purposes, a collective is defined by decentralized, or "majority-rules" decision making styles.


Contractualism is a term in philosophy which refers either to a family of political theories in the social contract tradition (when used in this sense, the term is synonymous with contractarianism), or to the ethical theory developed in recent years by T. M. Scanlon, especially in his book What We Owe to Each Other (published 1998).Social contract theorists from the history of political thought include Hugo Grotius (1625), Thomas Hobbes (1651), Samuel Pufendorf (1673), John Locke (1689), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762), and Immanuel Kant (1797); more recently, John Rawls (1971), David Gauthier (1986) and Philip Pettit (1997).

Discursive dilemma

Judgment aggregation redirects here.

Discursive dilemma or doctrinal paradox is a paradox in social choice theory. The paradox is that aggregating judgments with majority voting can result in self-contradictory judgments.

Consider a community voting on a road repairs. The same group may return a "Yes" if asked three questions, but a "No" if asked one question. This paradox emerges because the community may vote 'Yes' - the roads are important, and 'Yes' - the weather is right for road repair, and 'Yes' - there are available funds for the repairs. However, due to complexity of individual opinion and disagreement, the majority may at the same time rule that "No, all three requirements for road repair are not present". Thus the road repair team gets different feedback depending on how they poll their community.

Philosopher Philip Pettit believes the discursive dilemma makes it impossible to make simple statements about the beliefs of a collective.


Broadly speaking, liberty (Latin: Libertas) is the ability to do as one pleases. In politics, liberty consists of the social, political, and economic freedoms to which all community members are entitled. In philosophy, liberty involves free will as contrasted with determinism. In theology, liberty is freedom from the effects of "sin, spiritual servitude, [or] worldly ties."Sometimes liberty is differentiated from freedom by using the word "freedom" primarily, if not exclusively, to mean the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; and using the word "liberty" to mean the absence of arbitrary restraints, taking into account the rights of all involved. In this sense, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others. Thus liberty entails the responsible use of freedom under the rule of law without depriving anyone else of their freedom. Freedom is more broad in that it represents a total lack of restraint or the unrestrained ability to fulfill one's desires. For example, a person can have the freedom to murder, but not have the liberty to murder, as the latter example deprives others of their right not to be harmed. Liberty can be taken away as a form of punishment. In many countries, people can be deprived of their liberty if they are convicted of criminal acts.

The word "liberty" is often used in slogans, such as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" or "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".

List of ethicists

List of ethicists including religious or political figures recognized by those outside their tradition as having made major contributions to ideas about ethics, or raised major controversies by taking strong positions on previously unexplored problems.

All are known for an ethical work or problem, but a few are primarily authors or satirists, or known as a mediator, politician, futurist or scientist, rather than as an ethicist or philosopher. Some controversial figures are included, some of whom you may see as bad examples. A few are included because their names have become synonymous with certain ethical debates, but only if they personally elaborated an ethical theory justifying their actions.


The concept of an otherworld in historical Indo-European religion is reconstructed in comparative mythology.

Its name is a calque of orbis alius (Latin for "other Earth/world"), a term used by Lucan in his description of the Celtic Otherworld.

Comparable religious, mythological or metaphysical concepts, such as a realm of supernatural beings and a realm of the dead, are found in cultures throughout the world. Spirits are thought to travel between worlds, or layers of existence in such traditions, usually along an axis such as a giant tree, a tent pole, a river, a rope or mountains.

R. Jay Wallace

R. Jay Wallace (born 1957) is a Professor of Philosophy and Judy Chandler Webb Distinguished Chair for Innovative Teaching and Research at the University of California, Berkeley. His areas of specialization include moral philosophy and philosophy of action. He is most noted for his work on practical reason, moral psychology, and meta-ethics.


A republic (Latin: res publica) is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter”, not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are not inherited, but are attained through democracy, oligarchy or autocracy. It is a form of government under which the head of state is not a monarch.In American English, the definition of a republic refers specifically to a form of government in which elected individuals represent the citizen body and exercise power according to the rule of law under a constitution, including separation of powers with an elected head of state, referred to as a constitutional republic or representative democracy.As of 2017, 159 of the world’s 206 sovereign states use the word “republic” as part of their official names – not all of these are republics in the sense of having elected governments, nor is the word “republic” used in the names of all nations with elected governments. While heads of state often tend to claim that they rule only by the “consent of the governed”, elections in some countries have been found to be held more for the purpose of “show” than for the actual purpose of in reality providing citizens with any genuine ability to choose their own leaders.The word republic comes from the Latin term res publica, which literally means “public thing,” “public matter,” or “public affair” and was used to refer to the state as a whole. The term developed its modern meaning in reference to the constitution of the ancient Roman Republic, lasting from the overthrow of the kings in 509 B.C. to the establishment of the Empire in 27 B.C. This constitution was characterized by a Senate composed of wealthy aristocrats and wielding significant influence; several popular assemblies of all free citizens, possessing the power to elect magistrates and pass laws; and a series of magistracies with varying types of civil and political authority.

Most often a republic is a single sovereign state, but there are also sub-sovereign state entities that are referred to as republics, or that have governments that are described as “republican” in nature. For instance, Article IV of the United States Constitution "guarantee[s] to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government". In contrast, the former Soviet Union, which described itself as being a group of “Republics” and also as a “federal multinational state composed of 15 republics”, was widely viewed as being a totalitarian form of government and not a genuine republic, since its electoral system was structured so as to automatically guarantee the election of government-sponsored candidates.


Republicanism is a representative approach to democratic organization. It is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state organized as a republic under which the people hold popular sovereignty. It has had different definitions and interpretations which vary significantly based on historical context and methodological approach.

Republicanism may also refer to the non-ideological scientific approach to politics and governance. As the republican thinker John Adams stated in the introduction to his famous Defense of the Constitution, the "science of politics is the science of social happiness" and a republic is the form of government arrived at when the science of politics is appropriately applied to the creation of a rationally designed government. Rather than being ideological, this approach focuses on applying a scientific methodology to the problems of governance through the rigorous study and application of past experience and experimentation in governance. This is the approach that may best be described to apply to republican thinkers such as Niccolò Machiavelli (as evident in his Discourses on Livy), John Adams, and James Madison.

The word "republic" derives from the Latin noun-phrase res publica (thing of the people), which referred to the system of government that emerged in the 6th century BCE following the expulsion of the kings from Rome by Lucius Junius Brutus and Collatinus.This form of government in the Roman state collapsed in the latter part of the 1st century B.C., giving way to what was a monarchy in form, if not in name. Republics recurred subsequently, with, for example, Renaissance Florence or early modern Britain. The concept of a republic became a powerful force in Britain's North American colonies, where it contributed to the American Revolution. In Europe, it gained enormous influence through the French Revolution and through the First French Republic of 1792–1804.

Republicanism in Sweden

Republicanism in Sweden (Swedish: Republikanism) is the collective term for the movement in Sweden that seeks to establish a republic and abolish the Swedish constitutional monarchy.

Republicanism in Turkey

An important influence of Republicanism in Turkey formed a new republic in 1923 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. In the Ottoman Empire an inherited aristocracy and sultinate suppressed republican ideas until the successful republican revolution of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the 1920s. Atatürk preached six basic principles. His Six Arrows were Republicanism, Populism, Secularism, Reformism, Nationalism, and Statism).

In the 21st century Turkey has sought admission to the European Union on the grounds that it shares common political values with the nations of Europe. This concept shares some of the same classical roots as European republicanism and in modern times this form of government is called "republican" in English, but in pre-modern times it is not generally called republicanism.

Scottish republicanism

Scottish republicanism (Scottish Gaelic: Poblachdas na h-Alba) is an ideology based on the belief that Scotland should be a republic, as opposed to being under the monarchy of the United Kingdom. This is usually proposed through either Scotland becoming an independent republic, or being part of a reformed Britain.

Although this is not explicitly part of the independence movement, support for a republic is most often through pro-independence organisations who advocate for Scotland to become an independent state with a democratically elected head of state, instead of the status quo in which the head of state is the British monarch.

The Economy of Esteem

The Economy of Esteem is a book by Geoffrey Brennan and Philip Pettit describing the role of self-esteem and honour in the economy. It was published in 2005 by Oxford University Press.According to WorldCat, the book is held in 466 libraries It has been reviewed by in Politics, Philosophy & Economics, by Bo Rothstein in Perspectives in Politics in Politische Vierteljahresschrift, in Ethics, in Journal of Economics, in Economics and Philosophy,, in Journal of European Social Policy,, and in L'Année sociologiqueAccording to Brennan, others who have historically paid attention to the role of esteem in motivation range "from Cicero and Polybius through Thomas Aquinas to Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, the American Founding Fathers, Kant, and notably Adam Smith", although Brennan argues that modern 'invisible hand' economics neglects the importance of esteem. Esteem is unique among currencies because it cannot be traded ("esteem is necessarily produced under conditions of autarky") and is subject to the paradox of hedonism.

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