This important book is the first serious philosophical examination of the modern state. It inquires into the justification of this particular form of political society. It asks whether all states are "nation-states," what are the alternative ways of organizing society, and which conditions make a state legitimate. The author concludes that, while states can be legitimate, they typically fail to have the powers (e.g. sovereignity) that they claim. Christopher Morris has written a book that will command the attention of political philosophers, political scientists, legal theorists, and specialists in international relations.
'... a judicious and wide-ranging discussion of the problems of the definition of the state, the justification of the state, the nature of the state's authority and its extent, and the justification of territorial boundaries for the state and its appropriate function. Morris's book is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read that political philosophers and theorists will do well to pay attention to.' Ethics 'Christopher Morris's An Essay on the Modern State argues ... that political philosophers should ... first examine more carefully the state itself, its purported justifications, and the claims states typically make over people and territories. This seems to be exactly the right prescription for philosophy, and Morris's approach not only brings contemporary preoccupations into closer contact with those of classical political philosophy, it also nicely shows just how the projects of mainstream contemporary political philosophy are related to those of more radical and revisionist (for instance anarchist) theory.' The Philosophical Review 'Morris reveals a great deal about just what the modern state can and cannot be and this puts all students of political philosophy in his debt.' Review of Metaphysics