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Stephen K. White
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 150
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In The Ethos of a Late-Modern Citizen, Stephen K. White contends that Western democracies face novel challenges demanding our reexamination of the role of citizens. White argues that the intense focus in the past three decades on finding general principles of justice for diversity-rich societies needs to be complemented by an exploration of what sort of ethos would be needed to adequately sustain any such principles. Accessible, pithy, and erudite, The Ethos of a Late-Modern Citizen will appeal to a wide audience.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-05481-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Democracies face novel challenges today, and the role of citizens must be at least partially reimagined if we are to face those challenges in an admirable fashion; that is, in a way that neither denies, in the name of tradition, the force of what is new, nor imagines that we can adequately confront it by rejecting wholesale the traditions of modern Western political thought. I want to offer an interpretation of our late-modern ethical-political condition and elucidate how a distinctive spirit—or, more specifically, “ethos”—of citizenship might be made part of an exemplary response to this condition. I will...

  6. 2 Reason and Ethos
    (pp. 11-32)

    Through much of the history of Western political thought, an appeal to reason occupies a central role. In that appeal, there resides a conviction that an orientation to reason carries with it at least some sort of initial traction for our engagement with the most significant problems of political life. Bytraction,I do not mean merely an instrumental grip on problems in the sense of a rational strategy that promises to efficiently enhance my self-interest.¹ Rather, I also mean at least a minimal cognitive and dispositional grip in the sense of some orientation toward justice and general well-being. When...

  7. 3 After Critique: Affirming Subjectivity
    (pp. 33-52)

    In Chapter 2, I began to delineate how the ethos I am proposing can understand itself as a reasonable response to a set of late-modern challenges. In the process of elucidating this claim, I also implicitly began to sketch the outlines of a figure of the self, or subject, who might sustain the sort of expectations that this reasonableness would demand. In this chapter, I want to attend more closely to the various qualities such a figure must have. But before undertaking this specific constructive task, I need to explain the general philosophical context in which it is being taken...

  8. 4 Animating the Reach of Our Moral Imagination
    (pp. 53-76)

    The fourth significant late-modern challenge to Western ethical-political thought has to do with how well that tradition can reenvision itself beyond the borders of the nation-state. Are our familiar ontological figures and basic concepts adequate for a world in which our attention is pushed more and more toward questions of global justice and human rights for those who live at great distances from us, in both a geographical and a cultural sense? In the preceding chapters, I have broached this broad topic indirectly in my discussion of problems that arise around the familiar liberal figure of the autonomous or capacious...

  9. 5 Democracy’s Predicament
    (pp. 77-104)

    The last of the five late-modern challenges that face a renewed ethos of citizenship involves the prospects for democracy. Are they bleak or bright, and on what factors should we base our answers? I will argue that democracy faces a predicament. I choose the wordpredicamentbecause it can indicate serious troubles, without necessarily implying completely bleak prospects. In recent years, a variety of political theorists have suggested that democracy is in a condition that is clearly disastrous and where prospects are dismal.¹ I want to resist this thoroughly negative judgment, at least to a degree. The assessment of democracy’s...

  10. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 105-112)

    My efforts in this book have been directed, first, toward introducing the notion of ethos and providing some sense of why its usage in contemporary political discourse has been growing; and, second and more important, toward justifying the exemplary character of a particular ethos for citizens of the wealthy Western democracies. Given the novelty of advocating an ethos, it is worth reviewing and amplifying some of the key claims involved in this endeavor. Toward this end, let me begin by emphasizing what I amnotdoing.

    In Chapter 5, I argued for an ethos of democratic citizenship displaying an agonistic...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 113-132)
  12. Index
    (pp. 133-135)