A Matter of Choice: The Effects of Decision-Making in Human Affairs

By Philip Hodgkiss

A considered examination of the enduring significance of choice-making in philosophy through the ages and its implications for the contemporary context.

ISBN: 9780227177419


A Matter of Choice represents a substantive discussion of the concept of choice in human affairs, taken against the backdrop of ethics and religion. Drawing on a range of contributions, Hodgkiss demonstrates in this study that, though often not the primary issue under consideration, a concern with choice has featured continually in human thought from the Hellenistic world of the Stoics to the post-Kantian environment of modern philosophy. Moreover, he argues that the social and historical dimension of choice has been consistently underplayed, and that the role of choice in modern economic and political developments is underestimated at our peril.

Through a critical account of the literature, Hodgkiss adeptly diagnoses the insufficiency of the current conception of the choice-making sovereign individual in the contemporary liberal-democratic capitalist context and outlines the implications of this philosophy for the choice-maker.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 215

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Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Philip Hodgkiss is a sociologist by background who has drawn increasingly on moral philosophy and ethics to research the origins of the idea and ideal of dignity and the role of choice in social affairs. He has degrees from the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics and was formerly Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Thought in the Department of Social Work and Social Care at the Manchester Metropolitan University. He is author of several publications in sociology, social thought and moral philosophy.



1. Introduction – Following the Progress of the Stars
2. Divine Determination – Having No Choice in the Matter
3. Recognising the Necessity of Choice – the Philosophical Back Story
4. Being Determined to Be Free – the Perplexing Legacy of Kant
5. ‘Choice’ Becoming ‘Action’ in Post-Kantian Social Thought
6. Making Choices Actively Make Sense – More Recent Interpretations in Philosophy
7. The Theorisation of Choice in Twentieth-Century Sociology
8. Capturing the Hostage to Fortune
9. Liberal Democracy – the Prime Real Estate of Choice
10. Conclusion – Being Spoilt for Choice



Endorsements and Reviews

A Matter of Choice represents an exciting contribution to the current debates on the neo-liberal cornering of ‘choice’ in human affairs. From Hellenistic philosophy to contemporary sociology, Hodgkiss charts the emergence of choice, free will and human agency in contrast to the determinism of God’s will and then economism. The book is a must for students and the lay reader interested in unpacking the current ‘choice’ mantra.
Tom Cockburn, Professor of Social Sciences, Edge Hill University

How to understand the idea of choice, and its relation alongside others such as fate, will, deliberation, and causality, has long exercised the greatest human minds. In teasing out and evaluating the teachings about choice from a galaxy of philosophers and sociologists, Hodgkiss has produced a lively, engaging and penetrating book that is philosophically, sociologically, and historically literate.
Lloyd Strickland, Professor of Philosophy and Intellectual History, Manchester Metropolitan University