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The Shadow of UnfairnessA Plebeian Theory of Liberal Democracy$
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Jeffrey Green

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190215903

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190215903.001.0001

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Learning How Not to Be Good

Learning How Not to Be Good

A Plebeian Perspective

(p.101) 4 Learning How Not to Be Good
The Shadow of Unfairness

Jeffrey Edward Green

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines why plebeianism will be difficult to accept among the very ordinary citizens it aims to serve, why it should still nevertheless be endorsed, and how its philosophy in this regard embodies a distinctly plebeian brand of political maturity. What makes plebeianism challenging is that it requires from the ordinary citizen behaviors and commitments that, though necessary for a more honest and progressive pursuit of liberal democracy, are nonetheless morally ambiguous—an almost paradoxical amalgam designated as principled vulgarity. After detailing how the idea of principled vulgarity is absent within the history of political thought, the chapter examines four of its aspects which contemporary plebeians must confront: the vulgarity of classism, the vulgarity of arbitrariness, the vulgarity of non-deliberative discourse, and the vulgarity of rancorous sentiments. The chapter concludes by reflecting more generally on the broader concept of political maturity implied by plebeianism.

Keywords:   vulgarity, political maturity, Machiavelli, plebeianism, ancient Rome, classism, arbitrariness, non-deliberative discourse, rancor

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