Political theory or political philosophy treats a wide range of concerns having to do with normative aspects of the state, power, individuals, and groups. Some political theorists concern themselves with more or less traditional attempts to justify and explain specific regime types, such as liberal democracies or their underlying philosophies, such as liberalism. Others work on more recondite areas, such as the attempt to ground political and social action in the absence of metaphysical foundations or specific aspects of the history of political thought.

This entry, however, focuses on several overarching conceptions important in considering political questions within contemporary liberal democracies. With this in mind, this entry begins with three major concepts: (1) liberalism, (2) liberty, and (3) consent. Then the entry focuses on three areas ...

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