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The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy Cover

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The Common Good of Constitutional Democracy

essays in political philosophy and on Catholic social teaching

Martin Rhonheimer

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

A Companion to Michael Oakeshott Cover

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A Companion to Michael Oakeshott

Edited by Paul Franco and Leslie Marsh

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Confucius, Rawls, and the Sense of Justice

Erin Cline

This book compares the role of a sense of justice in the ethical and political thought of Confucius and John Rawls. Erin Cline demonstrates that the Analects (the most influential record of Confucius' thought) and Rawls's work intersect in an emphasis on the importance of developing a sense of justice. Despite deep and important differences between the two accounts, this intersection is a source of significant philosophical agreement.The study does not simply compare and contrast two views by examining their similarities and differences; it also offers a larger argument concerning the reasons why comparative work is worthwhile, the distinctive challenges comparative studies face, and how comparative work can accomplish distinctive and significant ends.Not only can a comparative study of the capacity for a sense of justice in Confucius and Rawls help us better understand each of their views, but it also can help us to see new ways in which to apply their insights, especially with respect to the contemporary relevance of their accounts.

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Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution

Germaine de Stael

Few individuals have left as deep an influence on their time as did Germaine de Staël, one of the greatest intellectuals of her age, whose works have influenced entire cultures, eras, and disciplines. Soon after its publication, posthumously in 1818, Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution became a classic of liberal thinking, making a deeply original contribution to an ongoing political and historical debate in early nineteenth-century France and Europe. As a representative of classical liberal opinion, de Staël’s voice, which Napoleon Bonaparte tried to silence by censorship and banishment, is a unique and important contribution to revolutionary historiography. Considerations is considered de Staël’s magnum opus and sheds renewed light on the familiar figures and events of the Revolution, among them, the financier and statesman Jacques Necker, her father. Editor Aurelian Craiutu states that Considerations explores “the prerequisites of liberty, constitutionalism and rule of law, the necessary limits on power, the relation between social order and political order, the dependence of liberty on morality and religion, and the question of the institutional foundations of a free regime.” Madame de Staël’s unique perspective combined a sharp intellect with an elegant style that illustrates the French tradition at its best. Considerations was rightly hailed as a genuine hymn to freedom based on a perceptive understanding of what makes freedom possible and on a subtle analysis of the social, historical, and cultural context within which political rights and political obligation exist. Madame de Staël conceived of this volume in six parts: parts 1 through 4 reflect on the history of France, the state of public opinion in France at the Accession of Louis XVI, and Necker’s plans of finance and administration. Other topics discussed in this section of the book include the conduct of the Third Estate in 1788 and 1789, the fall of the Bastille, the decrees of the Legislative Assembly, the overthrow of the monarchy, the war between France and England, the Terror of 1793–94, the Directory, and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. Parts 5 and 6 contain a vigorous defense of representative government in France, with a detailed examination of the English political system. Part 6, in particular, offers memorable political insights on liberty and public spirit among the English and discusses the relation between economic prosperity and political freedom and the seminal influence of religion and morals on liberty. Germaine de Staël (1766–1817) rose to fame as a novelist, critic, political thinker, sociologist of literature, and autobiographer. She experienced firsthand many important events of the French Revolution, which she followed closely from Paris and, later, from exile in Switzerland, where she lived between 1792 and 1795. Her salon was famous for hosting Benjamin Constant, August Wilhelm von Schlegel, Lord Byron, and other luminaries, before and after her exile by Napoleon. Aurelian Craiutu is Associate Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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Constructing Community

Moral Pluralism and Tragic Conflicts

J. Donald Moon

In developing a new theory of political and moral community, J. Donald Moon takes questions of cultural pluralism and difference more seriously than do many other liberal thinkers of our era: Moon is willing to confront the problem of how community can be created among those who have very different views about the proper ends of human life. Experiencing such profound disagreement, can we live together in a society under norms we all accept? In recent years, traditional ways of looking at this query have come under attack by post-modernists, feminists, and thinkers concerned with pluralism. Respectfully engaging their critiques, Moon proposes a reformulated liberalism that is intended to overcome the problems they have identified.

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Corrupting Youth

Political Education, Democratic Culture, and Political Theory

J. Peter Euben

In Corrupting Youth, Peter Euben explores the affinities between Socratic philosophy and Athenian democratic culture as a way to think about issues of politics and education, both ancient and modern. The book moves skillfully between antiquity and the present, from ancient to contemporary political theory, and from Athenian to American democracy. It draws together important recent work by political theorists with the views of classical scholars in ways that shine new light on significant theoretical debates such as those over discourse ethics, rational choice, and political realism, and on political issues such as school vouchers and education reform. Euben not only argues for the generative capacity of classical texts and Athenian political thought, he demonstrates it by thinking with them to provide a framework for reflecting more deeply about socially divisive issues such as the war over the canon and the "politicization" of the university.

Drawing on Aristophanes' Clouds, Sophocles' Antigone and Oedipus Tyrannos, and Plato's Apology of Socrates, Gorgias, and Protagoras, Euben develops a view of democratic political education. Arguing that Athenian democratic practices constituted a tradition of accountability and self-critique that Socrates expanded into a way of doing philosophy, Euben suggests a necessary reciprocity between political philosophy and radical democracy. By asking whether we can or should take "Socrates" out of the academy and put him back in front of a wider audience, Euben argues for anchoring contemporary higher education in appreciative yet skeptical encounter with the dramatic figure in Plato's dialogues.

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Courage

The Politics of Life and Limb

Richard Avramenko

Courage: The Politics of Life and Limb is a compelling and highly original study of the paradox of courage. Richard Avramenko contends that courage is not simply one virtue among many; rather, it is the primary means for humans to raise themselves out of their individualistic, isolated, and materialistic existence. As such, courage is an absolute and permanent good for collective human life. Specifically, Avramenko argues that when we risk "life and limb" for one another we reveal a fundamental care that binds our community together. Paradoxically, the same courage that brings humans together also drives us apart because courage is traditionally understood as manly, by definition, exclusionary, inegalitarian, and violent.

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Creolizing Political Theory

Reading Rousseau through Fanon

Jane Anna Gordon teaches Political Science and African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

Might creolization offer political theory an approach that would better reflect the heterogeneity of political life? After all, it describes mixtures that were not supposed to have emerged in the plantation societies of the Caribbean but did so through their capacity to exemplify living culture, thought, and political practice. Similar processes continue today, when people who once were strangers find themselves unequal co-occupants of new political locations they both seek to call “home.” Unlike multiculturalism, in which different cultures are thought to co-exist relatively separately, creolization describes how people reinterpret themselves through interaction with one another. While indebted to comparative political theory, Gordon offers a critique of comparison by demonstrating the generative capacity of creolizing methodologies. She does so by bringing together the eighteenth-century revolutionary Swiss thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the twentieth-century Martinican-born Algerian liberationist Frantz Fanon. While both provocatively challenged whether we can study the world in ways that do not duplicate the prejudices that sustain its inequalities, Fanon, she argues, outlined a vision of how to bring into being the democratically legitimate alternatives that Rousseau mainly imagined.

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The Crisis of Modern Times

Perspectives from The Review of Politics, 1939-1962

Edited by A. James McAdams

In the 1940s and 1950s The Review of Politics, under the dynamic leadership of Waldemar Gurian, emerged as one of the leading journals of political and social theory in the United States. This volume celebrates that legacy by bringing together classic essays by a remarkable group of American and European émigré intellectuals, among them Jacques Maritain, Hannah Arendt, Josef Pieper, Eric Voegelin, and Yves Simon. For these writers, the emergence of new dictatorial regimes in Germany and Russia and the looming threat of another, even more devastating, European war demanded that one rethink the reigning philosophical perspectives of the time. In their view, the western world had lost sight of its founding principles. Individually and collectively, they maintained that the West could be saved only if its leaders embraced the idea that society should be governed by moral standards and a commitment to human dignity. Since the first issue appeared in 1939, The Review of Politics has influenced generations of political theorists. To complement these essays A. James McAdams has written an introduction that discusses the history of the journal and reflects on the contributions of these influential figures. He underscores the continuing relevance of these essays in assessing contemporary issues.

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Dark Side of the Light

Slavery and the French Enlightenment

Louis Sala-Molins

Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau and Montesquieu are best known for their humanist theories and liberating influence on Western civilization. But as renowned French intellectual Louis Sala-Molins shows, Enlightenment discourses and scholars were also complicit in the Atlantic slave trade, becoming instruments of oppression and inequality. 

Translated into English for the first time, Dark Side of the Light scrutinizes Condorcet’s Reflections on Negro Slavery and the works of Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Diderot side by side with the Code Noir (the royal document that codified the rules of French Caribbean slavery) in order to uncover attempts to uphold the humanist project of the Enlightenment while simultaneously justifying slavery. Wielding the pen of both the ironist and the moralist, Sala-Molins demonstrates the flawed nature of these attempts and the reasons given for this denial of rights, from the imperatives of public order to the incomplete humanity of the slave (and thus the need for his progressive humanization through slavery), to the economic prosperity that depended on his labor. At the same time, Sala-Molins uses the techniques of literature to give equal weight to the perspective of the “barefooted, the starving, and the slaves” through expository prose and scenes between slave and philosopher, giving moral agency and flesh-and-blood dimensions to issues most often treated as abstractions. 

Both an urgent critique and a measured analysis, Dark Side of the Light reveals the moral paradoxes of Enlightenment philosophies and their world-changing consequences. 

Louis Sala-Molins is a moral and political philosopher and emeritus professor at the University of Toulouse. He is the author of many books, including Le Code Noir, ou Le calvaire de Canaan and L’Afrique aux Amériques

John Conteh-Morgan is associate professor of French and Francophone, African-American, and African studies at Ohio State University. He is the author of Theatre and Drama in Francophone Africa: A Critical Introduction.

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