A comprehensive overview of the Western tradition of political thought that approaches concepts with the aim of helping readers develop their own political thinking and critical thinking skills. This text is uniquely organized around the theme of civil society — what is the nature of a civil society? why is it important? — that will engage students and help make the material relevant. Major thinkers discussed in the text are explored not only with the goal of understanding their views, but also with an interest in understanding the relationship of their ideas to the notion of a civil society. DeLue contends that a civil society is important for securing the way of life that most of us value and want to preserve, a way of life that allows people to live freely and place significance on their own lives.