Political philosophy is a blending of political science and philosophy, illuminating various theoretical topics such as liberty, law, rights, authority and the legitimacy of government. In popular parlance, the phrase “political philosophy” is often used interchangeably with “political ideology.” However, in academics, political philosophy is more a sub-discipline of political science.
It can be argued that the development of political philosophy dates to the ancient world. Most famously, it was explored by Plato in his classic work The Republic, in which he declared that the ideal state was one ruled by a Philosopher King. Aristotle as well wrote on political philosophy, in his tome Politics.
Modern political philosophy dates to the Renaissance, and the work of Niccolo Machiavelli. His The Prince, published in 1532, has been heavily influential in Western thought. Political philosophy was expanded during the Enlightenment, when thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, and Montesquieu wrote several seminal works, outlining such basic ideas as the Social Contract and the consent of the governed. These developments were instrumental in the founding of the American Constitution. Today, American John Rawls is largely considered to be the leading authority in political philosophy, with the publication of A Theory of Justice.