Book #46: Democracy’s Discontent, by Michael Sandel

I took awhile finishing Michael Sandel’s “Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy” because I believe the argument it presents is critical to the future shape of progressive liberalism. As a consequence, I read it fairly slowly, with frequent asides for footnotes and chasing down referenced articles, etc. This was fairly rewarding, because it led to rethinking some of the assumptions I’d previously had about how to defend the progressive project within the overall framework of liberalism. Such a defense is sorely needed, as we all recognize. Jeffrey Issac’s “The Poverty of Progressivism” advances a persuasive argument for how progressivism has declined in stature as public philosophy, but Issac takes for granted the version of liberal political philosophy which underlies both progressive and conservative varieties of liberalism today. Sandel reaches deeper into our history, and shows how the civic republicanism of the Founding era evolved into the liberal neutrality of the modern, “procedural” republic.

Sandel writes from what might best be described as a “progressive communitarian” perspective, or better yet as a defender of self-government within a civic republic which has adopted progressive ends as its public philosophy. In this sense, his critique of how “rights-oriented” liberalism has proven hollow and unsatisfying, even as it succeeded in guaranteeing rights for minorities, women, and the disadvantaged, is an important one.

I’ve said this many times, but I’m not yet fully ready to write about how I view Sandel’s critique of “rights-oriented” liberalism. I’ve started reading review and response articles to Sandel by William Galston, Eldon Eisenach, and Mark Tushnet, among others. Once through these critical reviews, I’ll post again with more thoughts on this important book.


18 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. Melatonin Improves Mood In Winter Depression

    that melatonin, a naturally occurring brain substance, can relieve the doldrums of winter depression, also known as

  2. Multiple-Browser Frame Injection Vulnerabilities (and Other Security Updates)

    vulnerabilities affecting
    Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Netscape.

  3. The Freedom Toaster

    to bandwidth starved locations in South Africa:
    Through a touch screen interface, users can obtain for free

  4. Fired-Up Nets to Meet Heat

    is going to be a big factor, as will Dwyane Wade. But we want to make them do something they’re uncomfortable doing and execute

  5. GM To Recall 400,000 Trucks

    about 400,000 pickup trucks due to defective brake lights, including models

  6. ESRI Supports National Geographic Society Campaign to Increase Geographic Knowledge

    National Geographic Society will offer today’s youth a valuable resource to increase their geographic knowledge and embrace the world

  7. 5,000TH First Response Backpacks Shipped to Wounded Soldier

    Soldiers Angels has Shipped 5,000 Backpacks to Soldiers who have been wounded in the War on Terror (PRWEB May 15, 2006)

  8. Customer Service Center

    Searchable Directory of Online Sources “Source Locator” … To begin, supply search criteria for any field(s) in the search form below …

  9. NYSE Group to Buy Euronext for About $10B

    to Acquire Euronext for About $10B, Create First Trans-Atlantic Securities Market

  10. Taking the Love Out of the Game: Americans’ Overtraining May Hamper Results

    astern Europe, China and Russia Among New Tennis Dynasties

  11. Islamic militia begins talks in Somalia (AP)

    nearly all of southern Somalia held talks Thursday with Somalias largely powerless government on the

  12. Personal Health: Age Is No Barrier to Lifting Depression’s Heavy Veil

    over 65 suffers from depression, but 70 to 90 percent receive no treatment for it.

  13. Democrats try to save poverty survey (AP)

    as Social Security and Medicaid if the Census Bureau eliminates a unique survey of poverty and income.

  14. City Squeezes Access to Program for Disabled Kids

    points to its program for developmentally disabled children (By Jarrett Murphy)

  15. Firefox Gets Desktop Search Support (and it’s not Google)

    a search tool that supports Mozilla Firefox history and bookmarks indexing. This makes CDS the first desktop search tool to fully support Firefox.

  16. Airbus Evacuation Drill Causes 33 Injuries

    People Suffer Injuries During Evacuation Drill for New Airbus A380 Jet

  17. Summer in LoDo Best Bets for a Downtown Denver Getaway

    attractions for a summer visit to Downtown Denver. Outlines the history of the area and highlights of it#039;s

  18. Apple Probes China Factory Conditions

    working conditions in one of its iPod manufacturing plants in China after being accused by British newspaper,