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Democracy and Goodness
A Historicist Political Theory

$26.00 USD

  • Date Published: January 2018
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108534116

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About the Authors
  • Citizens, political leaders, and scholars invoke the term 'democracy' to describe present-day states without grasping its roots or prospects in theory or practice. This book clarifies the political discourse about democracy by identifying that its primary focus is human activity, not consent. It points out how democracy is neither self-legitimating nor self-justifying and so requires critical, ethical discourse to address its ongoing problems, such as inequality and exclusion. Wallach pinpoints how democracy has historically depended on notions of goodness to ratify its power. The book analyses pivotal concepts of democratic ethics such as 'virtue', 'representation', 'civil rightness', 'legitimacy', and 'human rights' and looks at them as practical versions of goodness that have adapted democracy to new constellations of power in history. Wallach notes how democratic ethics should never be reduced to power or moral ideals. Historical understanding needs to come first to highlight the potentials and prospects of democratic citizenship.

    • Generates stronger discussion between critical political theory and practical politics than is currently offered by liberal-conceptual, moralist, poststructuralist and realist political theories
    • Illustrates how history need not be anachronistic nor tradition-bound but a source of critical perspective on present and future democratic politics and ethics
    • Engages historical and analytical scholarship on democratic ethics to bridge the gap between critical and consequentialist political theory (Plato and Machiavelli), the horizon of virtue and the practice of rights
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Democracy and Goodness is an admirable exercise in argumentation, as refined in its theoretical perspective as it is expansive in its political scope. Ranging across ancients and moderns in an unabashedly 'historicizing' mode, Wallach intervenes decisively onto the contested terrain of contemporary democratic theory, retrieving an account of democratic ethics that is intrinsic to democracy as an ongoing activity in politics and history. On these terms, Wallach's book is a welcome provocation at a moment when principled and coherent conceptions of the relation between democracy, power, and goodness are in short supply.' Mary G. Dietz, Northwestern University, Illinois

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2018
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108534116
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Historicizing democratic ethics
    2. Democracy and virtue in ancient Athens
    3. Representation as a political virtue and the formation of liberal democracy
    4. Civil rightness: a virtuous discipline for the modern Demos
    5. Democracy and legitimacy: popular justification of states amid contemporary globalization
    6. Human rights and democracy
    Conclusion: political action and retrospection

  • Author

    John R. Wallach, Hunter College, City University of New York
    John R. Wallach is Professor of Political Science at Hunter College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Previous to this, he has been a Liberal Arts Fellow in Political Science at Harvard Law School and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College and University Teachers. He is author of The Platonic Political Art: A Study of Critical Reason and Democracy (2001) and Athenian Political Thought and the Reconstruction of American Democracy, co-edited with J. Peter Euben and Josiah Ober (1994).

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