The Political Philosopher Isaiah Berlin Essay

1679 Words Oct 12th, 2016 7 Pages
The political philosopher Isaiah Berlin classified thinkers into two general types: hedgehogs, who perceive the world through a single ideological lens, and foxes, who derive understanding from diverse experiences and ideas. Joseph Parent’s book, Uniting States: Voluntary Union in World Politics, suggests that he is a paradigmatic hedgehog. Starting with his acknowledgement of influence from Realist luminaries including Robert Art, James Fearon, Robert Jervis, John Mearsheimer, Steve Walt, and Ken Waltz, Parent provides his first clue to the type of explanatory analysis he will undertake. The first paragraph in Chapter 1 then implies that security and military action causes political outcomes, which makes clear Parent’s Realist perspective that views unification as a predominantly threat-driven process. While very interesting and commendable for his use of historical case studies to explore political phenomena, Parent’s arguments unsuccessfully “shed light on federalism, identity formation, and how to escape anarchy.” He takes four disparate cases and attempts to show similarities that only become apparent if viewed through Parent’s single lens, and with blinders. In my opinion, his shortcomings stem from critical flaws associated with his lack of explanation regarding the distinctions between types of union, limited examples resulting from a contrived definition of voluntary unification, and his highly selective use of history which omits relevant details in order…

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