Paul Anthony Rahe
Hillsdale College
Democracy in America never mentions the Declaration of Independence. Is this perhaps a sign of hostility to the Declaration’s natural-rights teaching or to abstract principles? Or is it no more significant than The Federalist’s silence on this matter? Both are books of political science, not political philosophy; yet, when appropriate, Tocqueville addresses first principles, and endorses a natural-rights doctrine similar to Locke’s. He wrote primarily for the French, addressing issues he thought decisive for them, especially reconciling the ultra-royalists and the French Catholic Church to the new democratic order. This guided the aspects of American democracy he wanted to emphasize. Thus Jesus Christ’s coming to earth was a political turning point in human history because he “made it understood that all members of the human species are naturally alike and equal.” Given aristocratic dominance in ancient society, without that event the principle of equality might never have been discovered.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Social Science
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 1091-0905
DOI 10.5840/cssr2012172
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