2010 C.B. Macpherson Prize
Winner: James Tully
Public Philosophy in a New Key(Cambridge University Press, 2008)
Excerpt from jury report: James Tully’s two-volume work argues for the democratically engaged role of public philosophy. A new, fresh and clear synthesis of his previous work on the history of Western political thought, colonialism and post-colonialism, modern constitutionalism, and indigenous peoples, Tully’s book advances an inspiring project that stresses the need for public philosophy to enter into dialogue with citizens engaged in struggles against various forms of injustice and oppression. Public philosophy can throw a critical light on the field of practices in which civic struggles take place and the practices of civic freedom available to change them. The focus upon relationships of normativity and power, and the need to bring them into the light of public scrutiny thanks to the particular academic skills available to the researchers, make public philosophy ‘in a new key’ distinctively democratic. The breadth and depth of the work, combined with Tully’s focus on civic freedom and the possibility of the reciprocal elucidation of academic work and citizens’ democratic struggles, make it a major and truly inspiring contribution to contemporary political theory.