Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval

Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval

Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval

Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval

Excerpt

This volume explores, in five new essays, some implications of the ideas about democracy I have offered in two previous books and a scattering of published essays. Two of the published essays, which link the argument of those books with the first four of the new essays, are placed here as Essays I and II. Readers are asked to forgive some redundancy between Essays I and II: they make different points, but some of the arguments had to be the same.

The new essays III to VI build on the earlier work. Essay III modifies, extends, and I hope clarifies, the concept of a man's power, and that of the 'transfer of powers', presented in Essay I (and earlier), and argues that a liberal-democratic theory can be based on an adequate concept of human powers and capacities without insuperable difficulties. Essays IV and V argue that what may be called the neo-classical liberalisms of Chapman, Rawls, and Berlin, fall short of providing an adequate basis for a twentieth-century liberal-democratic theory largely because, in different ways, they fail to see or understate the transfer of powers. Essay VI focuses on the liberal theory of property, and argues that it should be, and can be, revised fundamentally to accommodate new democratic demands.

The first six essays, as a sequence, are intended to establish the need and possibility of a theory of democracy which will get clear of the disabling central defect of current liberal-democratic theory, while holding on to, or recovering, the humanistic values which liberal democracy has always claimed. I am aware that these essays do not amount to a new theory of democracy sufficient to the need I have propounded, but I publish them now as at least a contribution to identifying the problem.

Part Two collects five papers which lead up to or supplement the essays in Part One. They were published in various places, mostly between 1961 and 1968, and are not now all readily available. They are placed here in reverse chronological order of publication.

Part Three consists of three papers on the seventeenth-century roots of the twentieth-century liberal-democratic dilemma. The first of them (Essay XII) is new: it puts in perspective a controversy with Peter Laslett which has until now been conducted on both sides mainly in footnotes and obiter dicta. The others (Essays XIII and XIV) . . .

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