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Debating Democracy's DiscontentEssays on American Politics, Law, and Public Philosophy$
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Anita L. Allen and Milton C. Regan

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198294962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198294964.001.0001

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The Retrieval of Civic Virtue: A Critical Appreciation of Sandel's Democracy's Discontent

The Retrieval of Civic Virtue: A Critical Appreciation of Sandel's Democracy's Discontent

Chapter:
(p.17) 1 The Retrieval of Civic Virtue: A Critical Appreciation of Sandel's Democracy's Discontent
Source:
Debating Democracy's Discontent
Author(s):

Thomas L. Pangle

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198294964.003.0002

The civic republican public philosophy is rooted in Aristotle and Machiavelli. It stresses the civic virtues deliberative self-government requires in the citizenry, and makes the formation of character–that is, the fostering of the capacities for active citizenship–a chief and direct aim of legislation and public policy. There are severe unexplored tensions among some of the virtues that Sandel’s narrative evokes, and he appeals to Jeffersonian republicanism while hiding the aristocratic cornerstone of authentic Jeffersonianism in embarrassment. If Sandel were to reconsider Aristotle attentively, he would be forced to enlarge his conception of virtue, and of what Aristotle–and the entire classical tradition through Jonathan Swift–means by “virtue.”

Keywords:   aristocracy, Aristotle, capacities, character, citizenship, Jefferson, Machiavelli, republican, tensions, virtues

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