Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1237–1239 | Cite as

Giunia Gatta: Rethinking Liberalism for the 21st Century: The Skeptical Radicalism of Judith Shklar

New York and London: Routledge, 2018. Hardcover (ISBN: 978–0–8153-8383-3). 153 + x Pp
  • Allyn FivesEmail author

Judith N. Shklar [1928–1992] made significant contributions to both the history of political ideas as well as contemporary debates in political theory. Giunia Gatta’s study of Shklar’s work is a scholarly and thought provoking contribution to our understanding of a political philosopher of considerable stature. Gatta approaches her task with three overarching purposes: to situate Shklar’s political theory within her own biography; to uncover a common thread running through her life’s work, what Gatta calls ‘skeptical radicalism,’ and finally to ‘appropriate’ Shklar and her work in the name of ‘agonistic liberalism’ (p. 5).

What does Gatta mean by ‘skeptical radicalism’? It is an approach that raises sceptical doubts about the claims made on behalf of revolutionary utopianism, but nonetheless holds us responsible for how we respond to injustice and despotism. Shklar, in putting cruelty first among the vices, starts not from a summum bonum but a summum malum. As cruelty is the greatest...


  1. Shklar JN (1989) The Liberalism of Fear. In: Rosenblum N (ed) Liberalism and the moral life. Harvard University Press, (Cambridge, MA., pp 21–38Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NUIGalwayIreland

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