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2023 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

Republicanism, Democracy and History

Authors : Richard Bellamy, Albert Weale

Published in: Republicanism and Democracy

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

Modern republican theory as presented by Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner rests upon a particular set of interpretations of the history of political thought. In particular, it is claimed, Hobbes’s redefinition of liberty as the absence of interference, subsequently taken up by Bentham and other utilitarian and liberal theorists, eclipsed the older republican notion in which the freedom of citizens was necessarily tied to the freedom of the state of which they were members. This liberal account of liberty is then contrasted with the more democratic republican account, in which political participation is intrinsically linked to freedom from mastery. However, the historiography of this claim proves problematic. On the one hand, it overlooks the prominent role played by utilitarian and liberal assumptions and principles in the democratic arguments of philosophic radicals in the nineteenth century. On the other hand, it involves excluding Rousseau and Kant, central figures in the continental republican tradition, from the republican canon because of the way they drew on Hobbes’ account of sovereignty to develop an argument for a democratic social contract. Both these historical developments suggest that the liberal account of freedom may be less inimical to democracy and republicanism than modern republican thinkers such as Pettit, have claimed. Indeed, we suggest the second may offer the basis of the most compelling defence of democracy understood in republican terms.

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Metadata
Title
Republicanism, Democracy and History
Authors
Richard Bellamy
Albert Weale
Copyright Year
2023
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-15780-6_10