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Professors Schauer and McAdams both seek a more or less sweepingly general theory of why we obey the law. But we should split, not lump. There are different reasons different actors in different social settings obey different laws–not only, but not least, out of regard for democratic decision making.
Patriotism and Other Mistakes. By George Kateb. New
Haven: Yale University Press, 2006. 464p. $35.00.
Readers of George Kateb's previous work will recognize the author's
familiar voice in this collection of papers from the last 17 years
or so. By turns earnest (“I know that I preach,” [p. 12]) and
cavalier (“I know I am being arbitrary,” [p. 125]), Kateb is intent
on plumbing the pernicious irrationalities that seduce us away from
his favored stance, democratic individuality. His approach is
literary, freewheeling, elliptical. Theorists fond of analytic
philosophy will be impatient with how blurry and peremptory his
claims can sound. Still, his is an instructive sensibility.
Time for a true confession: I'm skeptical of predictions in
social and political life. Talk of causal generalizations and
Hempel's covering laws strikes me as science fiction and fantasy in
drag; talk of the unfolding of the immanent logic of modernity makes me
dyspeptic. I usually think that structural considerations are context, not
cause, and that weird combinations of stray contingencies explain what
happens. Worse, now I'm called on to predict how political theorists
will be discussing democracy ten years hence. Images of herding cats and
Brownian motion come to mind. Nonetheless, duty calls. I dust off my
crystal ball and discover it has three channels.Don Herzog teaches law and political theory at the University
of Michigan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Our public sphere, which should have displayed and
preserved the grandeur and beauty of our civic ideals and moral
excellences, is instead inane and vacuous when it is not utterly mean,
ugly, or indecent” (p. 4). Troubled by the tawdry nonsense
circulating in the public sphere—and she wrote before learned
enquiries into whether the President's genitals had any
distinguishing characteristics—Rochelle Gurstein turns to history
to understand how we arrived at such a sorry destination. Hers is a tale
of decline: The Victorians “we moderns” so routinely deride
for their Puritanical repressiveness understood full well that certain
things have to remain private, even shameful, in order to retain their
sacred value-and in order to protect a public sphere worth