Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.
In a vernacular sense, the term "political philosophy" often refers to a general view, or specific ethic, political belief or attitude, about politics, synonymous to the term "political ideology". Within political science, a strong focus has historically been placed on the role of political philosophy (also known as normative theory), moral philosophy and the humanities, although in recent years there has been increased focus to political theory based on quantitative methodological approaches as well as economic theory, the natural sciences and behaviouralism.
Aquinas was an incredibly influential thinker in the Natural Law tradition.
The rise of Islam, based on both the Qur'an and Muhammad strongly altered the power balances and perceptions of origin of power in the Mediterranean region.
Confucianism advocated a hierarchical, meritocratic government based on empathy, loyalty, and interpersonal relationships.
Legalism advocated a highly authoritarian government based on draconian punishments and laws.Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), from a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael.Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics secured the two Greek philosophers as two of the most influential political philosophers.The political conceptions of Islam such as kudrah (power), sultan, ummah, cemaa (obligation)-and even the "core" terms of the Qur'an—i.e., ibadah (worship), din (religion), rab (master) and ilah (deity)—is taken as the basis of an analysis.Hence, not only the ideas of the Muslim political philosophers but also many other jurists and ulama posed political ideas and theories.Chinese political philosophy dates back to the Spring and Autumn period, specifically with Confucius in the 6th century BC.Chinese political philosophy was developed as a response to the social and political breakdown of the country characteristic of the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period.Prior to China's adoption of communism, State Confucianism remained the dominant political philosophy of China up to the 20th century.Ancient Greece was dominated by city-states, which experimented with various forms of political organization, grouped by Plato into five categories of descending stability and morality: monarchy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny.By the late ancient period, however, the "traditionalist" Asharite view of Islam had in general triumphed.According to the Asharites, reason must be subordinate to the Quran and the Sunna.