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This chapter argues that in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions (c. 1770s–1790s) republican conceptions of liberty were put into service of both antislavery and proslavery discourses. Focusing on the American, Dutch, French, and Haitian revolutions, it distinguish three lines of republican reasoning that informed arguments against slavery: the 'extension' of political freedom to enslaved people; the idea that the institution of slavery leads to corruption; and third, the notion of republican liberty as a reward for military courage and sacrifice. It then identifies three ways in which republican conceptions of liberty were widely reconciled with the existence of chattel slavery: only a certain delineated group in society could responsibly enjoy republican liberty; enslaved people were a form of property and therefore not part of a society of free citizens; and finally, the idea that enslaved people who did not resist their slavery, basically acquiesced in their unfree status and were unworthy of republican liberty. Eighteenth-century republican arguments about liberty did not necessarily contradict chattel slavery, but could also form part of the legitimization of slavery. The chapter, then, demonstrates not so much the limits but the versatile employability of the republican discourse of liberty.
This chapter explores the usefulness of neo-Roman liberty – to live free from subjection, deference, and vulnerability to the arbitrary will of others – for our contemporary philosophical debates about human rights. For eighteenth-century republicans such as Wollstonecraft and Price, liberty understood in this way was conceptually linked to rights of humanity, but that link has been severed. Starting from a sense of perplexity about the disengagement between 'republican' liberty and human rights and the curious inability of mainstream human rights philosophy to deal with major political challenges, neo-Roman liberty is used here to push human rights philosophy onto more radically egalitarian terrain. The critique focuses on the naturalistic bias in human rights thinking, a misunderstanding of international human rights law, a tendency to focus on event-based 'local' principles of justice, and a reluctance to challenge structural causes of injustice. The contention is that Skinner’s neo-Roman liberty serves to establish two important normative premises for a human rights philosophy with more bite: human rights should offer the strongest protection for those who are most vulnerable to socio-economic and political marginalisation, and that objects of human rights should be conceptualised in terms of open-ended goals of justice, predicated on a commitment to structural equality.
Opens up new histories of freedom and republicanism by building on Quentin Skinner's ground-breaking Liberty before Liberalism nearly twenty five years after its initial publication. Leading historians and philosophers reveal the neo-Roman conception of liberty that Skinner unearthed as a normative and historical hermeneutic tool of enormous, ongoing power. The volume thinks with neo-Romanism to offer reinterpretations of individual thinkers, such as Montaigne, Grotius and Locke. It probes the role of neo-Roman liberty within hierarchies and structures beyond that of citizen and state – namely, gender, slavery, and democracy. Finally, it reassesses the relationships between neo-Romanism and other languages in the history of political thought: liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and the human rights tradition. The volume concludes with a major reappraisal by Skinner himself.
In the introduction, I first set forth some statistics on the current state of unionization. I then go on to explain some important differences between the argument from equality and the argument from liberty, and the need to reclaim the argument from liberty from the Right if we are to adequately defend a number of progressive policies including unionization. I also discuss the difference between consequentialist moral arguments and arguments from right, and explain the role that empirical claims play in each. I explain the difference between ideal and “non-ideal” theory, between preinstitutional and postinstitutional rights, and how these differences relate to the debate over unionization. I introduce the idea that liberty is a very complex notion and identify three different concepts of what liberty might mean. I explain the difference between a concept and a conception and how this makes what we talk about when we talk about liberty even more complex. Finally, I introduce the main arguments included in each of the three main essays in the book and explain that, while the overall argument of the book concentrates on the situation in the United States, it also has application to other liberal capitalist democracies and applies to other issues besides unionization.
For years now, unionization has been under vigorous attack. Membership has been steadily declining, and with it union bargaining power. As a result, unions may soon lose their ability to protect workers from economic and personal abuse, as well as their significance as a political force. In the Name of Liberty responds to this worrying state of affairs by presenting a new argument for unionization, one that derives an argument for universal unionization in both the private and public sector from concepts of liberty that we already accept. In short, In the Name of Liberty reclaims the argument for liberty from the political right, and shows how liberty not only requires the unionization of every workplace as a matter of background justice, but also supports a wide variety of other progressive policies.
Exploring republican ideas and concepts that developed in sixteenth-century Poland under the impact of humanism and the Renaissance, as well as political and constitutional changes, this is a landmark study of republican discourse in sixteenth-century Poland-Lithuania. It provides a conceptual and contextual analysis of the rich political literature and debate which animated intellectual life and political reasoning during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and effectively demonstrates its republican character. Using a comparative perspective, Dorota Pietrzyk-Reeves situates the Polish republican discourse within both the classical and early modern republican traditions, bringing together contexts and ideas that have traditionally been overlooked by scholars of early modern Europe. In addition, she also underlines the originality of Polish concepts such as the relationship between law, liberty and virtue as key elements of a well-ordered commonwealth and the vision of a mixed res publica that had a monarchical character. This book is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in European intellectual history and the early modern republican tradition.
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