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Philosophy and social science assume that reason and cause are objective and universally applicable concepts. Through close readings of ancient and modern philosophy, history and literature, Richard Ned Lebow demonstrates that these concepts are actually specific to time and place. He traces their parallel evolution by focusing on classical Athens, the Enlightenment through Victorian England, and the early twentieth century. This important book shows how and why understandings of reason and cause have developed and evolved, in response to what kind of stimuli, and what this says about the relationship between social science and the social world in which it is conducted. Lebow argues that authors reflecting on their own social context use specific constructions of these categories as central arguments about the human condition. This highly original study will make an immediate impact across a number of fields with its rigorous research and the development of an innovative historicised epistemology.
Drawing on political theory, comparative politics, international relations, psychology and classics, Ned Lebow offers insights into why social and political orders form, how they evolve, and why and how they decline. Following The Tragic Vision of Politics and A Cultural Theory of International Relations, this book thus completes Lebow's trilogy with an original theory of political order. He identifies long- and short-term threats to political order that are associated respectively with shifts in the relative appeal of principles of justice and lack of self-restraint by elites. Two chapters explore the consequences of late-modernity for democracy in the United States, and another chapter, co-authored with Martin Dimitrov, the consequences for authoritarianism in China. The Rise and Fall of Political Orders forges new links between political theory and political science via the explicit connection it makes between normative goals and empirical research.
Max Weber explored the political, epistemological and ethical problems of modernity, and understood how closely connected they were. His efforts are imaginative, sophisticated, even inspiring, but also flawed. Weber's epistemological successes and failures highlight unresolvable tensions that are just as pronounced today and from which we have much to learn. This edited collection of essays offers novel readings of Weber's politics, approach to knowledge, rationality, counterfactuals, ideal types, power, bureaucracy, the state, history, and the non-Western world. The conclusions look at how some of his prominent successors have addressed or finessed the tensions of the epistemological between subjective values and subjective knowledge; the sociological between social rationalization and irrational myths; the personal among conflicting values; the political between the kinds of leaders democracies select and the national tasks that should be performed; and the tragic between human conscience and worldly affairs.