Posted on November 12, 2017

Are contemporary political philosophers unknowingly spreading unverified beliefs about prehistoric societies? Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) Professor Karl Widerquist believes so, and explains why in a new book.

Written in conjunction with Grant S. McCall, an associate professor at Tulane University, Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy delves into claims about the benefits of modern societies that are often passed on without question or critique. To celebrate its publication, GU-Q will be hosting a book launch event at its Education City campus at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14. The book is the result of Widerquist’s long-held interest in common beliefs about prehistoric societies. Drawing upon evidence in the fields of archaeology and anthropology, it investigates the assumptions surrounding concepts such as the private property system and the origins of government.

The author hopes that the book will help readers understand that “philosophy's 2000-year-old effort to root out common prejudice from our beliefs about the world is far from complete.” “We still pass on many claims without question just because so many other people have passed them on without question,” said Widerquist. The scholar, who teaches political philosophy at GU-Q, holds a doctorate in political theory from Oxford University and an additional doctorate in economics from the City University of New York. Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy is the seventh book Widerquist has written or edited, with the majority of his previous research focusing on distributive justice. 

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