Creative Individualism

The Democratic Vision of C. B. Macpherson

By Peter Lindsay Jr.

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780791430569, 176 pages, August 1996
Hardcover : 9780791430552, 176 pages, August 1996

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Table of contents



1. Introduction

2. Individuals

3. Society

4. Democracy

5. Property

6. Conclusion

Works Cited


Constructs a cohesive picture of political theorist C. B. Macpherson's democratic vision, arguing that Macpherson's central message regarding the economic prerequisites of democracy is just as relevant today as when he first presented it.


Starting with C. B. Macpherson's conception of human nature and working through his idea of a just society, Peter Lindsay constructs a cohesive picture of Macpherson's democratic vision--a task Macpherson himself never undertook. Lindsay argues that Macpherson's central message regarding the importance of economic equality for democracy is as relevant today as it was when first presented.

In addition to offering a detailed picture of the economic prerequisites for democracy, Lindsay presents Macpherson's particular brand of liberal democracy as one that offers valuable insights into contemporary democratic and liberal debates. The result is a vision of creative individualism for the post-communist world that combines Macpherson's insistence on social justice with the lessons learned from failed attempts at central planning.

Peter Lindsay is a lecturer in Social Studies at Harvard University.


"What impresses me most is the manner in which Lindsay offers both a sympathetic exposition of Macpherson's work and a critical discussion of his political theory. He does a good job of analyzing Macpherson against the background of both traditional democratic theory and contemporary theorists of democracy, often defending Macpherson against his critics, but in a manner that allows for the limitation of Macpherson's 'single-mindedness. '

"This is a very accessible work, pitched at the level of Macpherson's own work, and it speaks to concrete contemporary theoretical and practical concerns about liberalism and democracy. " -- John Gunnell, State University of New York, Albany

"This is a very strong book that does justice to Macpherson's political thought and shows its author to be very well grounded in contemporary theoretical debates. The topic is very significant because Macpherson was one of the leading political theorists of the post-World War II period; the relationship between ontology and political theory is enduring; and the link between economic equality and political democracy retains its cogency despite the downplaying of this theme in contemporary political discourse. " -- Philip Resnick, University of British Columbia