Seyla Benhabib is Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy and Director of the Program in Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale University, Connecticut. Her most recent publications include Transformation of Citizenship: Dilemmas of the Nation-State in the Era of Globalization (2000), The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global World (2002) and The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents and Citizens (2004) which won the Ralph Bunche award of the American Political Science Association and the North American Society's best book in Social Philosophy award.
Ian Shapiro is Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University, California and Henry R. Luce Director of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. His most recent publications include The Moral Foundations of Politics (2003), The State of Democratic Theory (2003), The Flight From Reality in the Human Sciences (2005) and Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth (with Michael J. Graetz, 2005).
Danilo Petranovich is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at Yale University, Connecticut. His research focuses on the shaping of American allegiances from the Founding period through the Civil War.
In his introductory essay, Shapiro sets these cases in political, historical, and philosophical context, and gives the reader a sense of what the main issues in the constitutional law of abortion are likely to be in the future.
Some accounts of democracy's purposes focus on aggregating preferences; others deal with collective deliberation in search of the common good. Shapiro reveals the shortcomings of both, arguing instead that democracy should be geared toward minimizing domination throughout society. He contends that Joseph Schumpeter's classic defense of competitive democracy is a useful starting point for achieving this purpose, but that it stands in need of radical supplementation--both with respect to its operation in national political institutions and in its extension to other forms of collective association. Shapiro's unusually wide-ranging discussion also deals with the conditions that make democracy's survival more and less likely, with the challenges presented by ethnic differences and claims for group rights, and with the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth.
Ranging over politics, philosophy, constitutional law, economics, sociology, and psychology, this book is written in Shapiro's characteristic lucid style--a style that engages practitioners within the field while also opening up the debate to newcomers.
In the method-driven academic culture we inhabit, argues Shapiro, researchers too often make display and refinement of their techniques the principal scholarly activity. The result is that they lose sight of the objects of their study. Pet theories and methodological blinders lead unwelcome facts to be ignored, sometimes not even perceived. The targets of Shapiro's critique include the law and economics movement, overzealous formal and statistical modeling, various reductive theories of human behavior, misguided conceptual analysis in political theory, and the Cambridge school of intellectual history.
As an alternative to all of these, Shapiro makes a compelling case for problem-driven social research, rooted in a realist philosophy of science and an antireductionist view of social explanation. In the lucid--if biting--prose for which Shapiro is renowned, he explains why this requires greater critical attention to how problems are specified than is usually undertaken. He illustrates what is at stake for the study of power, democracy, law, and ideology, as well as in normative debates over rights, justice, freedom, virtue, and community. Shapiro answers many critics of his views along the way, securing his position as one of the distinctive social and political theorists of our time.