Guide Essays on Political Morality

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Political Action and Morality in Machiavellian Times
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Essays on Political Morality

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An Essay on Moral and Political Perfection

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By Michael J. In , the Harvard University Press published Sandel's Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy , which explores the demise of America's sense of community and morality in politics and examines the interplay of each within contemporary debates over issues such as abortion, gay rights, hate speech, religion, and the welfare state.

The author, a political theorist from Harvard, concluded then that America's project of self-government, and the chasms created by the labels "conservatism" or "liberalism" that frequently define freedom in sharply contrasting ways, had cultivated a citizenry far removed from the ideals of civic responsibility and community. In the same press's second offering from Sandel, the author revisits many of the same themes he addressed in Democracy's Discontent.

Freedom, Power and Political Morality | SpringerLink

In that sense, Public Philosophy serves as a companion piece to his first book. A compilation of 30 essays, each penned by the author and previously appearing in journals, periodicals, or law reviews between and , Public Philosophy reinvestigates the author's primary criticism of America's project in self-government: "American politics lacks an animating vision of the good society, and of the shared obligations of citizenship" 3.

The essays provide individual warrants for the author's extended argument by charting the "moral and civic dilemmas that animate American life" 3.

Sandel explicates how a political system that retrenches from moral discourse and that contributes to its citizenry's feelings of disempowerment must instead promote a sense of civic responsibility and a renewed spirit of community. In part 1, "American Civic Life," Sandel examines "how liberalism lost its moral and civic voice" and considers "whether the project of self-government can be rejuvenated in our time" 4.

The essays, according to the author, "seek in the American political tradition sources of civic renewal for our time" 7. The first two chapters provide a historical account of the endeavors to enact substantive economic and social policies. Drawing from Jeffersonian economic arguments, the economic debates of the Progressive and New Deal eras, and the economic rhetoric of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Reagan, Sandel recounts how policies that support the aims of either conservatism or liberalism, rather than advancing the notions of liberty and freedom, reflect a decline in the true purpose of America's project in self-government: to encourage civic virtue and a sense of community among all citizens, regardless of where they situate themselves on the political spectrum.