Civilizing the Republic

Philip Pettit

in Republicanism

Published in print September 1999 | ISBN: 9780198296423
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600081 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 Civilizing the Republic

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The laws that advance the aims of the republic, institutionalize its forms, and establish regulatory controls need to be supported by republican civil norms; the legal republic needs to become a civil reality. One reason that widespread civility is needed is that people can be assured of their non‐domination only so far as others recognize normative reasons for respecting them, not just reasons connected to fear of legal sanctions. Another is that if the republic is to be systematically sensitive to the interests and ideas of people—often newly emergent, newly articulated interests and ideas—then there have to be people who are virtuous enough to press appropriate claims; this applies both in the politics of difference and in the politics of common concerns. And a last reason why widespread civility is needed is that the public authorities cannot hope to identify and sanction all offences against republican laws and norms; ordinary people also have to be committed enough to perform in that role or to support the efforts of the authorities. Widespread civility is likely to be supported by the intangible hand of regard‐based sanctioning, since the honourable are destined in most circumstances to be the honoured, and the state must be careful not to impose forms of sanctioning, which might get in the way of that process. Civility or civic virtue may not be so difficult to achieve, as it often seems. It involves not just the internalization of public values and the disciplining of personal desires; given the communitarian nature of freedom as non‐domination, it also involves identification with larger groups, even with the polity as a whole, and access to new and satisfying identities.

Keywords: civic virtue; civility; claims; common concern; esteem; identification; norm; politics of difference; public values; sanctions

Chapter.  13804 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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