Intellectual historians want to look at the past to find questions of value. Greeks are considered the start of political philosophy. Plato, 428-348 BCE, is the most famous. Plato’s teacher, Socrates, was killed by Athenian democracy.
Aristotle, 384-322 BC, joined Plato’s Academy in Athens at eighteen and remained there until the age of thirty-seven. He was not a citizen of Athens. His writings constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy.
Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274, was an Italian Dominican friar and Catholic priest and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism. Thomas attempted to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity.
Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679, best known work is Leviathan (1651) which established social contract theory. His liberal thinking included: The right of the individual; the natural equality of all men; the artificial character of the political order; the view that all legitimate political power...
John Locke, 1632-1704, was the Father of Classical Liberalism . Human beings in their rationality are in God’s image. His law of nature was ethical and universal. Human preservation was tantamount. Each person has a property in himself. Property precedes government.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778, influenced the French Revolution with his political philosophy and his social contract theory. The perspective of many of today’s environmentalists can be traced back to Rousseau, espousing that all degenerates in man’s hands. The Social Contract (1972),...
Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804, was called the most evil person by Ayn Rand. His classical republican theory was extended in the Science of Right , the first part of the Metaphysics of Morals (1797). G.W.F. Hegel, 1770-1831, was definitely not a classical liberal.
John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, was the most famous classical liberal. Herbert Spencer, 1820-1903, was a prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era. Lysander Spooner, 1808-1887, was an American individualist anarchist and abolitionist.
John Rawls, 1921-2002, was the most influential figure among American philosophers. His first, and main, work, A Theory of Justice (1971), made him famous. It aimed to resolve the seemingly competing claims of freedom and equality.
Robert Nozick, 1938-2002, was a professor at Harvard whose best known book is Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) – a libertarian answer to Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1971). Murray Rothbard, 1926-1995, wrote The Ethics of Liberty as his main political philosophy work.