The Idea of a Liberal Theory: A Critique and Reconstruction

Princeton University Press
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Liberalism, the founding philosophy of many constitutional democracies, has been criticized in recent years from both the left and the right for placing too much faith in individual rights and distributive justice. In this book, David Johnston argues for a reinterpretation of liberal principles he contends will restore liberalism to a position of intellectual leadership from which it can guide political and social reforms. He begins by surveying the three major contemporary schools of liberal political thought--rights-based, perfectionist, and political liberalism--and, by weeding out their weaknesses, sketches a new approach he calls humanist liberalism.

The core of Johnston's humanist liberalism is the claim that the purpose of political and social arrangements should be to empower individuals to be effective agents. Drawing on and modifying the theories of John Rawls, Michael Walzer, Ronald Dworkin, Joseph Raz, Amartya Sen, and others, Johnston explains how this purpose can be realized in a world in which human beings hold fundamentally different conceptions of the ends of life. His humanist liberalism responds constructively to feminist, neo-Marxist, and other criticisms while remaining faithful to the core values of the liberal tradition.

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About the author

David Johnston is Associate Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He is the author of The Rhetoric of "Leviathan": Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Cultural Transformation (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 8, 1996
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9781400821518
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From our present Governor General, a series of 50 (of several thousand) carefully chosen letters he has written to people he has admired and befriended over his seventy-plus years, that sets out Mr. Johnston's frank, informed, and novel thoughts about Canada.

Touching on a wide range of topics ranging from learning, the law, kindness and courage, to the monarchy, Aboriginal education, justice, bilingualism, mental health and hockey, David Johnston has always used the letter writing form to tackle the passions, challenges, and goals of his incredibly accomplished and varied life. From his earliest years at Harvard, he has written several letters each day, starting with those to his large family, and broadening out to an ever-widening circle of friends that includes ministers and monarchs, educators and entrepreneurs, and many extraordinary Canadians who have deepened his perspective and touched his heart. The letters included in this beautiful volume are all about Canada -- a project to help him understand and share his views on this great country, past, present and future.
     Presented in three parts -- What Shapes Me, What Consumes Me, and What Comforts Me -- His Excellency reaches out to everyone from his grandchildren, Kevin Vickers, Clara Hughes, Chris Hadfield, the Aga Khan, Tina Fontaine, Mike Lazaridis, the teachers of our country, a grade five class in Winnipeg, an Inuit boy he met at the Terry Fox run in Repulse Bay, and many others. The perfect gift for graduates, this unique and lovely book should find its home in every Canadian's library.


From the Hardcover edition.
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