The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy presents fifty original essays, each specially written by a leading figure in the field, covering the entire subject of the history of political philosophy. They provide not only surveys of the state of research but substantial pieces that engage with, and move forward, current debates. Part I addresses questions of method. Contributors discuss the contextual method, classically articulated by Quentin Skinner, along with important alternative methods associated with Leo Strauss and his followers, and contemporary post-modernism. This section also examines the value of the history of political philosophy and the history of the discipline itself. Part II, Chronological Periods, works through the entire history of Western political philosophy. While most contributions address recognizable chronological periods, others are devoted to more specialized topics, including the influence of Roman Law, medieval Arabic political philosophy, Socialism, and Marxism. Aspects of the history of political philosophy that transcend specific periods are the subject of Part III.
Essays on topics such as democracy, the state, and imperialism trace theoretical developments over time. The histories of major non-Western traditions-Muslim, Confucian, and Hindu-are discussed in the final Part, with special reference to their relationships to Western political thought.