Introduction -- Methodology : an approach to philosophical analysis -- Fukuyama I : the concept of a history with universal direction and end point -- Fukuyama II : why does history end in liberal democracy? -- Postmodern perspectives on the flow of time -- Questioning the universality of human nature -- The myth of the individual : how "I" is constructed and gives an account of itself -- A theory of a history which ends in liberal (...)democracy through a reading of Fukuyama and postmodernism. (shrink)
Americans have an unwavering faith in democracy and are ever eager to import it to nations around the world. But how democratic is our own "democracy"? If you can vote, if the majority rules, if you have elected representatives--does this automatically mean that you have a democracy? In this eye-opening look at an ideal that we all take for granted, classical scholar Paul Woodruff offers some surprising answers to these questions. Drawing on classical literature, philosophy, and (...) class='Hi'>history--with many intriguing passages from Sophocles, Aesop, and Plato, among others--Woodruff immerses us in the world of ancient Athens to uncover how the democratic impulse first came to life. The heart of the book isolates seven conditions that are the sine qua non of democracy: freedom from tyranny (including the tyranny of majority rule), harmony (the blending of different views), the rule of law, natural equality, citizen wisdom, reasoning without knowledge, and general education. He concludes that a true democracy must be willing to invite everyone to join in government. It must respect the rule of law so strongly that even the government is not above the law. True democracy must be mature enough to accept changes that come from the people. And it must be willing to pay the price of education for thoughtful citizenship. Ancient Athens didn't always live up to these ideals. Nor does modern America. If we learn anything from the story of Athens, Woodruff concludes, it should be this--never lose sight of the ideals of democracy. This compact, eloquent book illuminates these ideals and lights the way as we struggle to keep democracy alive at home and around the world. (shrink)
This article offers an overview of the French political philosopher Claude Lefort's oeuvre, arguing that his work should be read as a normative or even universalist justification of democracy and human rights. The notion of history plays a crucial notion in this enterprise, as Lefort demonstrates that there is an ineluctable 'historical' or 'political' condition of human coexistence, a condition that can only be properly accommodated in a regime of democracy and human rights. This reading of Lefort (...) is contrasted with two other interpretations of his work. The first of these, by Sofia Nasstrom, is shown to overlook the importance of history in Lefort's understanding of democracy. The second, by Bernard Flynn, is shown to overlook the universalist implications of Lefort's theory. (shrink)
A proper sense of history and the past is often held to be essential to democracy. Current attitudes to history and the past in the United Kingdom, particularly but not only in the context of formal education, show signs of strain, just as many other aspects of democracy do. Conceptions of history as heritage or as a site for the exercise of skills deserve critical examination. We need to look for a fresh basis for the (...) relationship of democracies with their past. Perhaps this can be found in the essentially oppositional or ironical structure that both democracy and remembering require for their full flourishing. (shrink)
The article deals with the philosophy of Nikolai Berdjaev (1874–1948), which he formulated between The Philosophy of Inequality (written in 1918, but published in 1923) and The New Middle - Ages (1924). Berdjaev’s philosophy is analyzed in the context of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath. The other point of reference is the crisis of culture and civilisation, which affected the West in the inter-war period. Berdjaev’s position has been interpreted in view of the archetypal myth of the (...) struggle of the two principles, the principle of order (cosmos) and the forces of destruction (chaos). This myth is tied to the millenialist world view. Berdjaev took an anti-utopian stance. He juxtaposed the utopian-revolutionary principle with the hierarchical-creative one. From this position he criticized among others democracy, liberalism and socialism. In the midst of the crisis of the 1920s he remarked the possibility of spiritual rejuvenation putting forward the concept of the New Middle-Ages. One can say that at that time Berdjaev’s philosophy evolved within the conservative-creative framework, from the utopia of conservatism to the utopia of ‘free creativity’. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction: class, liberty, and popular government; Part I: 2. Peoples, patricians, and the prince; 3. Democratic republics and the oppressive appetite of young nobles; Part II: 4. The benefits and limits of popular participation and judgment; 5. Elections, lotteries and class specific institutions; 6. Political trials and 'the free way of life'; Part III: 7. Republicanism and democracy; 8. Post-electoral republics and the people's tribunate revived.
The political institutions under which we live today evolved from a revolutionary idea that shook the world in the second part of the eighteenth century: that a people should govern itself. Yet if we judge contemporary democracies by the ideals of self-government, equality, and liberty, we find that democracy is not what it was dreamt to be. This book addresses central issues in democratic theory by analyzing the sources of widespread dissatisfaction with democracies around the world. With attention throughout (...) to historical and cross-national variations, the focus is on the generic limits of democracy in promoting equality, effective participation, control of governments by citizens, and liberty. The conclusion is that although some of this dissatisfaction has good reasons, some is based on an erroneous understanding of how democracy functions. Hence, although the analysis identifies the limits of democracy, it also points to directions for feasible reforms. (shrink)
The project of public-reason liberalism faces a basic problem: publicly justified principles are typically too abstract and vague to be directly applied to practical political disputes, whereas applicable specifications of these principles are not uniquely publicly justified. One solution could be a legislative procedure that selects one member from the eligible set of inconclusively justified proposals. Yet if liberal principles are too vague to select sufficiently specific legislative proposals, can they, nevertheless, select specific legislative procedures? Based on the work of (...) Gerald Gaus, this article argues that the only candidate for a conclusively justified decision procedure is a majoritarian or otherwise ‘neutral’ democracy. If the justification of democracy requires an equality baseline in the design of political regimes and if justifications for departure from this baseline are subject to reasonable disagreement, a majoritarian design is justified by default. Gaus’s own preference for super-majoritarian procedures is based on disputable specifications of justified liberal principles. These procedures can only be defended as a sectarian preference if the equality baseline is rejected, but then it is not clear how the set of justifiable political regimes can be restricted to full democracies. (shrink)
This article starts from the observation that in classical Athens the discovery of democracy as a normative model of politics has been from the beginning not only a political and a legal but at the same time a philosophical enterprise. Reflections on the concept of criminal law and on the meaning of punishment can greatly benefit from reflections on Athenian democracy as a germ for our contemporary debate on criminal justice in a democracy. Three main characteristics of (...) the Athenian model will be analysed: the self-instituting capacity of a democracy based on participatory and reflective citizenship, political power as the capacity of citizens for co-operating and co-acting with others, and the crime of hubris as one of the key issues in Athenian criminal law. These analyses will lead to the conclusion that one of the key issues of a democratic legal order lies in its capacity of recognizing the fragility of the human condition and of developing workable and effective standards of justice in that context. A relational conception of criminal law and punishment, based on proportionality, reflexivity, mutual respect and responsibility fits best with a democracy under the rule of law. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to show how Spinoza’s conception of history could lead to a new formulation of the theory of democracy, in the context of Spinoza’s political philosophy. In this perspective, the analysis deals with the relations between historicity, on the one hand, and the notions of multitude and democracy, on the other, in the topic of Spinoza’s political thought. Into the horizon of historicity, the multitude’s (or the masses’) political activity could lead to (...) the realisation of a sustainable democratic regime. (shrink)
Este artículo ofrece una evaluación crítica de la revolución política en el contexto de una democracia constitucional y, en particular, de su justificación discursiva en el terreno de las propias instituciones democráticas. Para ello, se revisa el concepto mismo de revolución, mostrando que su definición política o técnica la hace incompatible con el modelo de cambio social aceptable o justificable en un sistema democrático. Esta revisión conceptual pretende clarificar de manera normativa la imposibilidad de justificar el encomio de la revolución (...) como uno de los recursos discursivos en el terreno del juego pluralista democrático de nuestra época. Palabras clave: revolución; democracia constitucional; progreso; filosofía de la historia; métodos pacíficos We Are All Revolutionary. Is Political Revolution Justifiable in Democratic Terms?This article offers a critical assessment of political revolution in the context of a constitutional democracy. Particularly, it assesses its discursive justification in the realm of democratic institutions themselves. In order to do so, I will go over the very concept of revolution, thus showing that its political or technical definition makes it incompatible with the model of social change which might be acceptable or justifiable within a democratic system. This conceptual analysis aims to normatively clarify the impossibility of justifying the praise of revolution as one of the discursive resources within the realm of the pluralistic, democratic game of our time. Keywords: Revolution; Constitutional Democracy; Progress; Philosophy of History; Pacific means. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Responding to oligarchy in Athens: an introduction; 2. Revolution, oligarchy and the patrios politeia; 3. Restoring Athens: democracy and law; 4. Reclaiming Athens: the demos and the city; 5. Remembering and forgetting: rituals and the demos; 6. The Thirty and the law; 7. Reconciling the Athenians; 8. Recreating democracy: documents and the law; 9. The agora and the democratic city; 10. Forgetting or remembering: oligarchy, stasis and the demos; 11. The strategies of (...) class='Hi'>democracy. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: Introduction: the republic, old and new; 1. Freedom as non-domination; 2. Social justice; 3. Political legitimacy; 4. Democratic influence; 5. Democratic control; Conclusion: the argument, in summary.
That the Enlightenment shaped modernity is uncontested. Yet remarkably few historians or philosophers have attempted to trace the process of ideas from the political and social turmoil of the late eighteenth century to the present day. This is precisely what Jonathan Israel now does. In Democratic Enlightenment , Israel demonstrates that the Enlightenment was an essentially revolutionary process, driven by philosophical debate. The American Revolution and its concerns certainly acted as a major factor in the intellectual ferment that shaped the (...) wider upheaval that followed, but the radical philosophes were no less critical than enthusiastic about the American model. From 1789, the General Revolution's impetus came from a small group of philosophe-revolutionnaires , men such as Mirabeau, Sieyes, Condorcet, Volney, Roederer, and Brissot. Not aligned to any of the social groups represented in the French National assembly, they nonetheless forged " la philosophie moderne "--in effect Radical Enlightenment ideas--into a world-transforming ideology that had a lasting impact in Latin America, Canada and eastern Europe as well as France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. In addition, Israel argues that while all French revolutionary journals powerfully affirmed that la philosophie moderne was the main cause of the French Revolution, the main stream of historical thought has failed to grasp what this implies. Israel sets the record straight, demonstrating the true nature of the engine that drove the Revolution, and the intimate links between the radical wing of the Enlightenment and the anti-Robespierriste "Revolution of reason." Acclaim for earlier volumes in the trilogy: "His vast--and vastly impressive--book sets out to redefine the intellectual landscape of early modern Europe. Magnificent and magisterialwill undoubtedly be one of the truly great historical works of the decade." -- Sunday Telegraph "The scholarship is breathtaking. Israel has read everything, absorbed every nuance, followed up every byway." -- New Statesman "An enormously impressive piece of scholarship. The breadth and depth of the author's reading are breathtaking and Enlightenment Contested is set to become the definitive work for philosophers as well as historians on this extraordinary period." -- Tribune. (shrink)