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Download Designing a Polity: America's Constitution in Theory and by James W. Ceaser PDF

By James W. Ceaser

In Designing a Polity, James W. Ceaser, one in every of our prime students of yank political improvement, argues for the ongoing primary position of the Founding in the research of yank govt. Drawing on essays released during the last 10 years, broadly up-to-date and revised to mirror present politics, Ceaser engages the Founding Fathers, really James Madison, emphasizes Alexis de Tocqueville as a version of political inquiry, evaluations present and up to date theorists equivalent to Richard Rorty and Jacques Derrida, and explores the sorts of modern conservative idea. Designing a Polity bargains a wealthy exploration of the middle values of political sciences that would be of specific curiosity to students and scholars of yankee political improvement, Constitutional idea, and modern political proposal.

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Americans have sought to maintain the recognition of faith, supported in forms of public discourse and by incidental forms of public acknowledgment, as a central element of the political order. Nonfoundationalism, which demands public neutrality concerning faith and nonbelief, aims at a profound alteration of the character of the polity. Finally, the doctrine of political nonfoundationalism would promote listlessness in the American public. indb 20 10/6/10 11:32 AM The Doctrine of Political Nonfoundationalism 21 to undertake important projects and to assure its survival.

Indb 18 10/6/10 11:32 AM The Doctrine of Political Nonfoundationalism 19 always required that the concept in question prove its utility as a tool of real political analysis. This test has not been met in this case—far from it. Pages, nay, volumes, have been written, filled with airy generalizations about the dangers of foundationalism. But which thinkers have taken the trouble to investigate the record of foundations in order to assess how they have performed in American history? Certainly not John Rawls, who is systematic to the point of painfulness about everything except the exploration of the actual performance of foundations.

If the main question of political theory is the character of the best regime, Montesquieu in this brief chapter—indeed, in three sentences—provides his response to classical political philosophy. The contrast is striking, even more in the method recommended for investigating how to determine the best regime than in the exact character of that regime itself. For the classics, the best regime is discovered by reason and has the form of an eternal model. For Montesquieu, the best regime is a gift of historical accident that is tied to a particular context, not a product of something intentionally constructed by thought.

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