Transforming Civic Virtue
Publication Year: 2009
Once upon a time, civic virtue described an ethic of political involvement for all citizens. As American democracy evolved, however, the public and private spheres separated. The latter became domesticated and disengaged from public life by an ideology based on gender and a "disinterested love" of neighbor. Private passion was to be isolated from public reason, private love from public justice. But it need not be so. Drawing on examples of ordinary heroes, Ann Mongoven argues for a transformed civic virtue that articulates "just love": passionate care for fellow citizens as such. By connecting theory to practice, Mongoven dramatizes the challenges raised through tangible political examples and lets ordinary heroes suggest the path toward civic renewal.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This is a book about the power of ordinary heroes, and I am grateful to many heroes in my life who played crucial roles in its writing. Although it is customary to acknowledge institutional supporters and scholarly colleagues first, and personal supporters afterwards, I invert that order here...
Part I. Mad about MADD
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1. Invisible Heroes: Mad about MADD
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Twenty years ago the thirteen-year-old daughter of suburban California housewife Candy Lightner was killed by a drunk driver. Mrs. Lightner was distraught to learn that the driver had been on the road despite having an extensive record of driving while intoxicated. Rather than simply...
2. New Calls for Civic Virtue, and Calls for New Civic Virtues
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As chapter 1 elaborated, a pervasive fall narrative obscures the civic virtue of citizens like MADD ’s founders. This mythology eulogizes the widespread cultivation of citizen virtue in some past golden age, lamenting a loss of civic character since then. The prevalence of the fall narrative...
Part II. The Dilemma of Impartiality
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3. The Dilemma of Impartiality: Legacy of the Bishopand the Chambermaid
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The conventional ideal of impartiality can’t be lived with because it demands superhuman detachment from one’s personal commitments, dismisses the ethical relevance of such commitments, and obfuscates real differences between citizens. On the other hand, it can’t be lived without...
4. Impartiality-as-Standpoint and Lost (Again) Virtue
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In this chapter, I return more fully to the contemporary theorists of civic virtue briefly introduced in chapter 2. I argue that the lingering false dichotomy between partialist and impartialist moral theory subtly but dangerously replicates itself in their work. This explains the invisibility of...
Part III. Resolving the Dilemma: Impartiality-as-Practiceand the Transformation of Civic Virtue
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5. Saving the Baby from the Bathwater: A Turn to Practice
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The standpoint conception of impartiality is so entrenched that it is presumed not only by its philosophical defenders but also by its critics. While the dichotomy between partiality and impartiality is ultimately a false one, it is nonetheless an influential one. Political theory is thus hamstrung...
6. Impartiality-as-Practice: The Lesson of Ordinary Moral Heroes
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We have seen the structural parallelism between the dilemma of objectivity in science, the dilemma of love in Christian theology, and the dilemma of impartiality in political theory. In each case, a central ideal of the tradition came to be viewed as a “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” ideal...
7. Just Love: The Transformation of Civic Virtue
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In this concluding chapter, I elaborate the implications of impartiality-as- practice for conceptions of civic virtue. My goal is not to provide an airtight definition of civic virtue but to counter distortions in conventional views and to redirect discourse in productive ways. I aim to foster renewed...
Appendix: Case Studies
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Page Count: 438
Illustrations: 5 figures
Publication Year: 2009