© 2019

The Political Thought of C.B. Macpherson

Contemporary Applications

  • Brings fresh insights and understanding to a major intellectual figure in the political theory tradition

  • Defends a form of radical democratic theory relevant to those concerned with the fate of contemporary democracy

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of Macpherson's major works to a general interest audience or introductory student

Palgrave Macmillan

Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Macpherson’s Project

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 3-22
    3. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 23-38
    4. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 39-56
  3. Part II

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 57-58
    2. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 59-72
    3. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 73-90
  4. Part III

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 91-93
    2. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 95-115
    3. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 117-137
    4. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 139-152
    5. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 153-170
    6. Frank Cunningham
      Pages 171-194
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 195-200

About this book


Central to the thought of C.B. Macpherson (1911-1987) are his critique of the culture of ‘possessive individualism’ and his defence of liberal-democratic socialism. Resurgence of interest in his works is in reaction to the rise of neoliberalism and efforts to find an alternative to societies dominated by capitalist markets. Macpherson’s theories are explained and applied to 21st century challenges.


Macpherson Possessive Individualism Developmental Democracy Market Societies Property Neoliberalism socialism democratic socialism radical politics intellectual history democratic theory liberal democracy globalization history of ideas race theory

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Philosophy & Political ScienceUniversity of TorontoToronto, ONCanada

About the authors

Frank Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Toronto, Canada, and is currently Adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University, Canada.

Bibliographic information


“Cunningham has performed an invaluable service for those who put a common humanity at the centre of their ethico-political reflection.” (Jules Townshend, Marx and Philosophy,, July 9, 2020)

“Frank Cunningham shows with utter clarity how the perspective of this penetrating thinker illuminates the present crisis of financialized capitalism.” (Nancy Fraser, Professor, New School for Social Research, USA)

“Cunningham’s masterful account of Macpherson’s work is clear and accessible. It suggests new ways to understand our present political reality.” (Carol C. Gould, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York, USA)


“Frank Cunningham’s book performs the invaluable service of introducing C.B. Macpherson’s seminal political thought to a new generation.” (Charles W. Mills, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Centre, USA)


“Frank Cunningham has put us in his debt in this penetrating study of Macpherson’s critique of the picture of human nature underlying the currently hegemonic neoliberalism.” (Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus, McGill University, Canada)