The twentieth-century Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) left behind an impressive canon of philosophical works and has continued to influence a scholarly community in Europe and North America, which has extended, critiqued, and applied his thought in many academic fields. Jonathan Chaplin introduces Dooyeweerd for the first time to many English readers by critically expounding Dooyeweerd’s social and political thought and by exhibiting its pertinence to contemporary civil society debates. Chaplin begins by contextualizing Dooyeweerd’s thought, first in relation to present-day debates and then in relation to the work of the Dutch philosopher Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). Chaplin outlines the distinctive theory of historical and cultural development that serves as an essential backdrop to Dooyeweerd’s substantive social philosophy; examines Dooyeweerd’s notion of societal structural principles; and sets forth his complex classification of particular types of social structure and their various interrelationships. Chaplin provides a detailed examination of Dooyeweerd’s theory of the state, its definitive nature, and its proper role vis-à-vis other elements of society. Dooyeweerd’s contributions, Chaplin concludes, assist us in mapping the ways in which state and civil society should be related to achieve justice and the public good.
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