The Loose Tradition of Republican Writers

In regards to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it is a great reference for understanding ‘REPUBLICANISM,’ in two different, but closely related senses. The author of the article, Frank Lovett explains that in the first sense is meant, a loose tradition or family of writers in the history of western political thought: “Machiavelli and his fifteenth-century Italian predecessors; the English republicans Milton, Harrington, Sidney, and others; Montesquieu and Blackstone; the eighteenth-century English commonwealthmen; and many Americans of the founding era such as Jefferson, Madison, and Adams. The writers in this tradition emphasize many common ideas and concerns, such as the importance of civic virtue and political participation, the dangers of corruption, the benefits of a mixed constitution and the rule of law, etc.; and it is characteristic of their rhetorical style to draw heavily on classical examples—from Cicero and the Latin historians especially—in presenting their arguments.”

The article continued:

“Beyond this brief sketch, there exists considerable historiographical controversy—with respect to who the tradition’s members are, and their relative significance; with respect to how we should interpret its underlying philosophical commitments; and with respect to its role (especially vis-à-vis liberalism) in the historical development of modern political thought. This brings us to the second sense of the term ‘republicanism’. In contemporary political theory and philosophy, it most often refers to a specific (and still contested) interpretation of the classical republican tradition, associated especially with the work of Quentin Skinner; together with a research program dedicated to developing insights from this tradition into an attractive contemporary political doctrine, associated especially with the work of Philip Pettit. According to republicans in this second sense (sometimes called ‘civic republicans’ or ‘neo-republicans’), the paramount republican value is political liberty, understood as non-domination or independence from arbitrary power.” Source: Lovett, Frank, “Republicanism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

A profile on all these loose family of ‘republican’ writers is on the list. Now, in the second sense of the term, REPUBLICANISM, this ‘NEO-REPUBLICANISM’ endeavor is itself again, only part of what I speak of. John Locke is apart of this “loose tradition,” or family at the basis of the history of U.S. political philosophy. Locke cannot be taken, without revisionism, out of the tradition or history.

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