The Foundations of American Citizenship: Liberalism, the by Richard C. Sinopoli

By Richard C. Sinopoli

This learn of exemplary writings from the debates over the ratification of the 1787 structure offers with the yank constitutional founders' understandings of citizenship and civic advantage. dialogue of those debates is decided in an analytical and old context, addressing the rationales for and the character of civic allegiance in liberal political regimes. Sinopoli analyzes the advance of a fairly liberal political psychology from its origins in John Locke, Adam Smith, and David Hume throughout the American founding and lines its implications for the present American polity.

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Each individual must be shown equal concern and respect in determining the sacrifices that must be made to support the public order. To do anything less is to treat some as the means for the advancement of others. Could it not be argued that liberalism presupposes a particular conception of the good even though liberals may claim to be "neutral" about such conceptions? Yes and no. The basic presumptions of liberal theory—notions of the moral equality of persons and justification of power through rational dialogue—are clearly moral imperatives.

Rights must be determined, not simply discovered, and this determination is ultimately a political process. However, once such a process has been completed authoritatively, the state must protect rights-bearers against those who would prefer not to see particular rights exercised by others. This may restrict the capacity of a minority to live in a society ordered according to its conception of the good, as was the case in the enforcement of desegregation orders, for example. The justification for state actions should be based not on a "better" theory of value than the one suppressed, but on a collective agreement about the demands of equal respect as defined through rational dialogue in specific cases.

The good of the community decided upon by public discussion that generates a consensus takes precedence over the "preferences" of any individual member. Now, public deliberation that takes this form, that is, stresses the good of the community over the claims of its members, can indeed be described as a republican dialogue. The rights of individuals do not place constraints on actions that can be undertaken to advance the public good. Rather, those rights are determined by the currently dominant conception of the good.

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