The Struggle for Democracy: Paradoxes of Progress and the Politics of Change

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9780190213923: The Struggle for Democracy: Paradoxes of Progress and the Politics of Change
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Revolutionaries, counter-revolutionaries, and reformers the world over appeal to democracy to justify their actions. But when political factions compete over the right to act in "the people's" name, who is to decide? Although the problem is as old as the great revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, events from the Arab Spring to secession referendums suggest that today it is hardly any closer to being solved.

This book defends a new theory of democratic legitimacy and change that provides an answer. Christopher Meckstroth shows why familiar views that identify democracy with timeless principles or institutions fall into paradox when asked to make sense of democratic founding and change. Solving the problem, he argues, requires shifting focus to the historical conditions under which citizens work out what it will mean to govern themselves in a democratic way. The only way of sorting out disputes without faith in progress is to show, in Socratic fashion, that some parties' claims to speak for "the people" cannot hold up even on their own terms.

Meckstroth builds his argument on provocative and closely-argued interpretations of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, suggesting that familiar views of them as foundationalist metaphysicians misunderstand their debt to a method of radical doubt pioneered by Socrates. Recovering this tradition of antifoundational argument requires rethinking the place of German idealism in the history of political thought and opens new directions for contemporary democratic theory. The historical and Socratic theory of democracy the book defends makes possible an entirely new way of approaching struggles over contested notions of progress, popular sovereignty, political judgment and democratic change.

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Christopher Meckstroth is University Lecturer in the History of Political Thought at the University of Cambridge.

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"In The Struggle for Democracy Christopher Meckstroth demonstrates that any democratic theory deserving of the name must also be a theory of democratic change. Through rigorous and insightful engagements with Socrates, Kant, and Hegel, Meckstroth's book sets the course for a promising new form of democratic theorizing, one focused on historically elaborated explorations of popular political judgment." -- Jason Frank, author of Constituent Moments: Enacting the People in Post-Revolutionary America


"Christopher Meckstroth forcefully argues for a non-reified, reflexive understanding of democracy. He redirects our view from institutional ideals to the autonomous discursive processes that lie at the heart of the concept of rule by the people. The way he develops his 'Socratic' approach in dialogue with classic authors and contemporary politics is highly original and an exemplar of the powers of political theory." -- Rainer Forst, Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy, Goethe University Frankfurt


"The Socratic elenchus, or critical examination of arguments in their own terms, becomes the democratic elenchus in Christopher Meckstroth's extraordinary and impressive new book. Radically antifoundational in both philosophy and application, Meckstroth's theory leads us away from the search for the best democratic institutions and toward the critical comparison of real-life political alternatives. Along the way we enjoy important new readings in the history of philosophy, including a brilliant interpretation of Kant's theoretical and practical work. The Struggle for Democracy is a must-read." -- Elisabeth Ellis, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Otago


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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Revolutionaries, counter-revolutionaries, and reformers the world over appeal to democracy to justify their actions. But when political factions compete over the right to act in the people s name, who is to decide? Although the problem is as old as the great revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, events from the Arab Spring to secession referendums suggest that today it is hardly any closer to being solved. This book defends a new theory of democratic legitimacy and change that provides an answer. Christopher Meckstroth shows why familiar views that identify democracy with timeless principles or institutions fall into paradox when asked to make sense of democratic founding and change. Solving the problem, he argues, requires shifting focus to the historical conditions under which citizens work out what it will mean to govern themselves in a democratic way. The only way of sorting out disputes without faith in progress is to show, in Socratic fashion, that some parties claims to speak for the people cannot hold up even on their own terms. Meckstroth builds his argument on provocative and closely-argued interpretations of Plato, Kant, and Hegel, suggesting that familiar views of them as foundationalist metaphysicians misunderstand their debt to a method of radical doubt pioneered by Socrates. Recovering this tradition of antifoundational argument requires rethinking the place of German idealism in the history of political thought and opens new directions for contemporary democratic theory. The historical and Socratic theory of democracy the book defends makes possible an entirely new way of approaching struggles over contested notions of progress, popular sovereignty, political judgment and democratic change. Seller Inventory # BTE9780190213923

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