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Donald Lutz begins A Preface to American Political Theory by explaining what the book doesn’t do.

It doesn’t begin with a panegyric to the American founding. It doesn’t answer the following questions: “What are the basic principles in the U.S. Constitution? What were the intentions of the founders with respect to (fill in your own topic)? What is the meaning of pluralism, or separation of powers, or democracy, or (fill in your own concept)?” In short, it doesn’t provide an overview of the content, development, or major conclusions of American political theory.

What it does do is provide “a pre-theoretical analysis of how to go about studying questions like the ones above-how to conceptualize the project, how to proceed in looking for answers, how to avoid the logical traps peculiar to the study of American political theory.”

Lutz sets out to emancipate American political theorists from empiricism and inappropriate European theories and methodologies. The end result is to establish the foundation for the systematic study of American behavior, institutions, and ideas; to provide a general introduction to the study of American political theory; and to illustrate how textual analysis, history, empirical research, and analytic philosophy are all part of the enterprise.

Designed for students and scholars in all disciplines, including political science, history, and legal studies, A Preface to American Political Theory doesn’t provide answers to central continuing issues in American political theory. Rather, it provides an effective, sophisticated entree into the study of American political theory. Readers will be armed with the intellectual tools to engage in systematic study and makes them aware of the pitfalls they will inevitably encounter.

Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Half-Title Page, Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Table of Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Tables
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Kansas Open Books Foreword
  2. Sanford Levinson
  3. pp. xi-xvi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. 1. What Is American Political Theory?
  2. pp. 1-29
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  1. 2. American Political Texts and Their Analysis
  2. pp. 30-48
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  1. 3. Toward a Complete Text on the U.S. Bill of Rights
  2. pp. 49-88
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  1. 4. The Use of History in American Political Theory
  2. pp. 89-112
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  1. 5. Intellectual History and the American Founding
  2. pp. 113-140
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  1. 6. Prolegomenon
  2. pp. 141-158
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  1. Appendix: European Works Read and Cited by the American Founding Generation
  2. pp. 159-164
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 165-178
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 179-188
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  1. Back Cover
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