Public Philosophy Essays On Morality In Politics Pdf Editor

In Democracy’s Discontent, Michael Sandel contrasts the civic republican approach to American politics with that of liberal neutrality and shows how the two views have played out over the course of US history. Sandel argues that liberal neutrality is overwhelmingly dominant today, and he urges a return to a more Aristotelian, republican politics; both positions are controverted here. Under republicanism, government, acting on the premise that self-government is intrinsically good, would take on the challenge of inculcating the virtues of character necessary for effective citizenship. Sandel is ... More

In Democracy’s Discontent, Michael Sandel contrasts the civic republican approach to American politics with that of liberal neutrality and shows how the two views have played out over the course of US history. Sandel argues that liberal neutrality is overwhelmingly dominant today, and he urges a return to a more Aristotelian, republican politics; both positions are controverted here. Under republicanism, government, acting on the premise that self-government is intrinsically good, would take on the challenge of inculcating the virtues of character necessary for effective citizenship. Sandel is not completely clear as to just what America’s lost republican ideals are and precisely what policies his republicanism would justify that liberalism cannot; he fails to acknowledge what both he and his critics should reject as the dark sides of republicanism: right-wing extremism and the tendency toward aristocracy. Republicanism, as well as liberalism, has special dangers for women, though heterosexual women might benefit from a republican discourse on homosexual marriage. The traditional civic virtues may not be those most appropriate to the contemporary United States; liberalism may be able to justify the promotion of virtues appropriate to our times, and a new civic pluralism may be more desirable than a more traditional republicanism. Many Americans are encumbered with traditional group identities that do not sit well with Sandel’s democratic, progressive, redistributivist republicanism; religion can promote virtue and progress, but it can also conflict with republican citizenship. Whether strong beliefs and commitments are valuable is subject to debate; they can produce culture wars, and some way must be found of responding to Americans who are unwilling to yield cherished values in the face of procedural rules. The emotional void republicanism is offered to fill, as well as the goals it is offered to pursue, proceed in part from the behavior of corporations and the desire of middle-class individuals to control them. Americans, Michael Sandel among them, are encumbered with individualism.

Keywords: character, citizenship, Democracy's Discontent, encumbered, identities, neutrality, republican, Michael Sandel, self-government, virtue

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1998Print ISBN-13: 9780198294962
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003DOI:10.1093/0198294964.001.0001

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