Our Politics, Our Selves? Liberalism, Identity, and Harm

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9780691037165: Our Politics, Our Selves? Liberalism, Identity, and Harm
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Is statecraft soulcraft? Should we look to our souls and selves in assessing the quality of our politics? Is it the business of politics to cultivate, shape, or structure our internal lives? Summarizing and answering the major theoretical positions on these issues, Peter Digeser formulates a qualified permission to protect or encourage particular forms of human identity. Public discourse on politics should not preclude talk about the role of reason in our souls or the importance of wholeness and community to our selves or the significance of autonomy for individuals. However, those who seek to place only their own conception of the self or soul within the reach of politics are as mistaken as those who would completely preclude such matters from the political realm.

In proposing this view, Digeser responds to communitarians, classical political rationalists, and genealogists who argue that liberal culture fragments, debases, or normalizes our selves. He also critically analyzes perfectionist liberals who justify liberalism by virtue of its ability to cultivate autonomy and authenticity, as well as liberal neutralists who wish to avoid altogether the problem of selfcraft. All these, he argues, fall short in some way in defining the extent to which politics should be concerned with the self.

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"Digeser stakes out a distinctive position on a central issue in political theory. One of the best things about the book is that it does not engage in caricature but is sensitive to the complexity and nuance of the views it discusses."--David R. Mapel, University of Colorado


"I very much admire this book. Digeser handles a great quantity of disparate material with a considerable steadiness of expository clarity and argumentative crispness, and he has an accurate eye for the differences between assorted antiliberalisms."--Alan Ryan, Princeton University


About the Author:

Peter Digeser is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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