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The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy

essays in political philosophy and on Catholic social teaching

Martin Rhonheimer

Publication Year: 2013

The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy offers a rich collection of essays in political philosophy by Swiss philosopher Martin Rhonheimer. Like his other books in both ethical theory and applied ethics, which have recently been published in English, the essays included are distinguished by the philosophical rigor and meticulous attention to the primary and secondary literature of the various topics discussed

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

The title of this book, The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy, contains a twofold message. First, there is a common good, including a set of socially shared values, which morally legitimates both the basic political structure of constitutional democracy...

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pp. xiii-xxxvii

The present volume makes available, for English-language readers, a substantial collection of essays in political philosophy by the Swiss philosopher Martin Rhonheimer. In this preface, I will offer first some general introductory remarks to locate this...

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One: Why Is Political Philosophy Necessary?: Historical Considerations and a Response

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pp. 1-35

The question “Why is political philosophy necessary?” could seem strange and out of place to those familiar with the history of philosophy and with the present-day “renaissance,” at the international level, of philosophical reflection...

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Two: The Liberal Image of Man and the Concept of Autonomy: Beyond the Debate between Liberals and Communitarians

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pp. 36-71

More than a philosophical theory, today liberalism is a political reality. Even socialists and social-democrats in Western democracies profess a liberal political consensus. This consensus has its historical roots in those same political...

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Three: The Democratic Constitutional State and the Common Good

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pp. 72-141

The great majority of people living in today’s so-called developed world are also participants in a culture characterized by the political-institutional reality of the democratic constitutional state. This type of political organization of society...

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Four: Auctoritas non veritas facit legem: Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, and the Idea of the Constitutional State

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pp. 142-160

The Hobbesian maxim Auctoritas non veritas facit legem (“Authority, not truth creates the law”) certainly has the character of a hackneyed phrase, a commonplace of political philosophy, but it has the advantage that it not only brings out the...

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Five: The Open Society and the New Laicism: Against the Soft Totalitarianism of Certain Secularist Thinking

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pp. 161-172

Karl Popper wrote in 1987 that, despite the fact that his book The Open Society and Its Enemies had been continually in print since 1945, only rarely had the book’s most important idea been well understood: that the essential thing is not...

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Six: The Political and Economic Realities of the Modern World and Their Ethicaland Cultural Presuppositions: The Encyclical Centesimus annus

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pp. 173-190

Centesimus annus,1 the third social encyclical of John Paul II, was published in 1991 on the occasion of the centenary of Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum. 2 The latter was the first of the social encyclicals of the popes...

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Seven: The Political Ethos of Constitutional Democracy and the Place of Natural Law in Public Reason: Rawls’s “Political Liberalism” Revisited

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pp. 191-264

The main concern of this essay, and the principal aim of my argument that runs through all parts of it, is to answer the question: “How in liberal constitutional democracy as it actually exists in most free and developed countries...

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Eight: Rawlsian Public Reason, Natural Law, and the Foundation of Justice: A Response to David Crawford

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pp. 265-291

In his article “Recognizing the Roots of Society in the Family, Foundation of Justice,”1 David Crawford has provided a very valuable account of human society as founded in the family union, which on its turn is based on the marriage...

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Nine: Can Political Ethics Be Universalized? : Human Rights as a Global Project

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pp. 292-303

Human rights are made up of all the values that concern social and political life, and are supposed to be universal. Though their origin is Western, human rights today are to be applied globally. Taken as a global political ethos, then, they...

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Ten: Christian Secularity and the Culture of Human Rights

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pp. 304-315

It is well known that the Catholic Church has come to fully acknowledge the secularity of the state and the political principles of constitutional democracy as a cultural achievement only after a long period of mutual hostility and conflict...

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Eleven: Multicultural Citizenship in Liberal Democracy: The Proposals of C. Taylor, J. Habermas, and W. Kymlicka

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pp. 316-341

The modern political culture of the democratic constitutional state is the result of a long process of conflict, from which has arisen the awareness, typically modern, of the need to distinguish the political and juridical system...

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Twelve: Christianity and Secularity: Past and Present of a Complex Relationship

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pp. 342-428

The thesis that I will propose in this essay is the following: Christianity introduced a clear separation between politics and religion into Western history, in an absolutely new way and indeed for the first time. At the same time, however...

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Thirteen: Benedict XVI’s “Hermeneutic of Reform” and Religious Freedom

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pp. 429-454

In a notable Christmas message given before the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI cautioned against a widespread interpretation of the Second Vatican Council that would posit that the Church after the council...

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Fourteen: Capitalism, Free Market Economy, and the Common Good: The Role of the State in the Economy

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pp. 455-499

In his famous and brilliantly written pamphlet The End of Laissez-faire, the great British economist John Maynard Keynes calls the essential characteristic of capitalism...


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pp. 501-522


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pp. 523-535

E-ISBN-13: 9780813220109
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813220093

Page Count: 560
Publication Year: 2013