A Political Philosophy in Public Life

A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero's Spain

José Luis Martí
Philip Pettit
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    A Political Philosophy in Public Life
    Book Description:

    This book examines an unlikely development in modern political philosophy: the adoption by a major national government of the ideas of a living political theorist. When José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero became Spain's opposition leader in 2000, he pledged that if his socialist party won power he would govern Spain in accordance with the principles laid out in Philip Pettit's 1997 bookRepublicanism, which presented, as an alternative to liberalism and communitarianism, a theory of freedom and government based on the idea of nondomination. When Zapatero was elected President in 2004, he invited Pettit to Spain to give a major speech about his ideas. Zapatero also invited Pettit to monitor Spanish politics and deliver a kind of report card before the next election. Pettit did so, returning to Spain in 2007 to make a presentation in which he gave Zapatero's government a qualified thumbs-up for promoting republican ideals.

    In this book, Pettit and José Luis Martí provide the historical background to these unusual events, explain the principles of civic republicanism in accessible terms, present Pettit's report and his response to some of its critics, and include an extensive interview with Zapatero himself. In addition, the authors discuss what is required of a political philosophy if it is to play the sort of public role that civic republicanism has been playing in Spain.

    An important account of a rare and remarkable encounter between contemporary political philosophy and real-world politics, this is also a significant work of political philosophy in its own right.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3505-8
    Subjects: Political Science, History, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. 1 The Spanish Context
    (pp. 1-30)
    José Luis Martí

    José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain,² has affirmed on several occasions that he endorses and is inspired by the political philosophy of civic republicanism, and specifically by the work of Philip Pettit. As Zapatero has stated: “this modern political philosophy called republicanism . . . is very important nourishment to what we want for our country” (Prego 2001, 166). Consequently, both civic republicanism and Pettit’s name have been present in the Spanish media and debates in recent years, being widely and critically discussed by both the Left and the Right. José Andrés Torres Mora, one of Zapatero’s closest...

  5. 2 Civic Republican Theory
    (pp. 31-68)
    Philip Pettit

    This chapter seeks to provide an overall, accessible view of the traditional, republican philosophy of freedom and government, presenting it as an alternative to better-established liberal views, whether of a left-of-center or right-of-center cast. I describe the philosophy as civic republican, relying on the “civic” tag to mark three contrasts; they might also be marked by use of the word “civicism,” a neologism that has a certain currency. The first is a contrast with mere opposition to monarchy, something that is important in a constitutional monarchy like Spain or the United Kingdom. The second is a contrast with the republicanism...

  6. 3 The Theory in Practice? Spain 2004–8
    (pp. 69-108)
    Philip Pettit

    The observations I shall be making on the government of Spain in the period from March 2004 to June 2007 are presented at the invitation of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Mr. Zapatero aligns himself with the long European tradition of republican, citizen-centered thought and agreed to reply to a lecture I gave in Madrid in 2004 on how this tradition might be used in the contemporary shaping of government. In response to my comment that he would find it hard to live up to republican principles, he issued an invitation that I return and provide a republican review...

  7. 4 An Interview with Prime Minister Zapatero
    (pp. 109-134)
    Philip Pettit

    I have always found ideas to be very important in politics, particularly for the Left. Even those who conceive of themselves as pure pragmatists actually have a conception of the world and a view of justice that are theoretical, even if they do not happen to know their intellectual origin. Their ideas originate in books, even if they have not read them, but are mediated almost unconsciously through the press, through debates, or merely through institutional shaping.

    We, the socialists, are quite keen on debating about ideas. Indeed, when I became a member of the PSOE we were in the...

  8. 5 Giving Philosophy a Public Life
    (pp. 135-160)
    Philip Pettit and José Luis Martí

    There are many reasons to favor the exercise whereby a philosophy is given the role in public life that civic republicanism appears to have played in Zapatero’s Spain. The most important, by our own lights, is provided by the civic republican consideration that people will be better able to invigilate and control government—better able to implement a contestatory form of democracy—to the extent that that government commits itself, not just to a hodgepodge of policies, but to a unified philosophical outlook. We expect a political philosophy to have a public role both in offering guidance in institutional design...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 161-182)
  10. References
    (pp. 183-190)
  11. Index
    (pp. 191-198)