In this chapter we sketch a body of political thought that became predominant in the second half of the twentieth century among academic political philosophers, primarily in the English-speaking world, but increasingly elsewhere, too. To call this type of political thought ‘analytical’ may not be particularly revealing, but no other term better describes the movement in question. Sometimes ‘liberal political theory’ is used, and there is indeed a close connection between analytical theory and liberalism. But that label is in one way too broad and in another too narrow for this kind of political thinking: too broad because liberalism has assumed many different philosophical guises in the course of a history much longer than that of our subject; and too narrow because those who engage in this kind of political theory use methods of analysis and techniques of argument that are not confined to liberals.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2006 Cambridge University Press. This chapter first appeared in The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought.

Please note that downloads of the book chapter are for private/personal use only.

Purchase online at Cambridge University Press.