What Has Athens to Do with Rome? Tocqueville and the New Republicanism

American Political Thought 6 (4):550-573 (2017)
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The recent debate over “republican” conceptions of freedom as non-domination has re- invigorated philosophical discussions of freedom. However, “neo-Roman” republicanism, which has been characterized as republicanism that respects equality, has largely ignored the work of Alexis de Tocqueville, although he too took his task to be crafting a republicanism suited to equality. I therefore provide a philosophical treatment of the heart of Tocqueville’s republicanism, including an analysis of his conception of freedom as freedom in combined action and a philosophical reconstruction of his primary argument for the importance of this kind of freedom. A comparison of Philip Pettit’s and Tocqueville’s republicanism exposes limitations in the neo-Roman conception of freedom as non-domination and its ideal of the free citizen and shows why neo-Roman republicanism, to live up to its motivating ideals, should accommodate elements of “neo- Athenian” republicanism and freedom in combined action.

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Alexander Jech
University of Notre Dame


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