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Civil Passions

Civil Passions: Moral Sentiment and Democratic Deliberation

Sharon R. Krause
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 274
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  • Book Info
    Civil Passions
    Book Description:

    Must we put passions aside when we deliberate about justice? Can we do so? The dominant views of deliberation rightly emphasize the importance of impartiality as a cornerstone of fair decision making, but they wrongly assume that impartiality means being disengaged and passionless. InCivil Passions, Sharon Krause argues that moral and political deliberation must incorporate passions, even as she insists on the value of impartiality. Drawing on resources ranging from Hume's theory of moral sentiment to recent findings in neuroscience,Civil Passionsbreaks new ground by providing a systematic account of how passions can generate an impartial standpoint that yields binding and compelling conclusions in politics. Krause shows that the path to genuinely impartial justice in the public sphere--and ultimately to social change and political reform--runs through moral sentiment properly construed. This new account of affective but impartial judgment calls for a politics of liberal rights and democratic contestation, and it requires us to reconceive the meaning of public reason, the nature of sound deliberation, and the authority of law. By illuminating how impartiality feels,Civil Passionsoffers not only a truer account of how we deliberate about justice, but one that promises to engage citizens more effectively in acting for justice.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3728-1
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION Citizenship, Judgment, and the Politics of Passion
    (pp. 1-26)

    How do we distinguish, as citizens, between laws that are worthy of our allegiance and those we should reject or resist? Democratic procedural criteria are important here, but ostensibly democratic procedures sometimes go wrong, generating laws that endanger civil liberties or obstruct social justice. And while the principle of judicial review gives the courts a role in evaluating legislative outcomes, citizens in liberal democracies also have a responsibility in this regard. As citizens, our relationship to the laws should not be one of blind obedience, after all; it should reflect critical engagement and sound judgment. In fact, we have a...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Justice and Passion in Rawls and Habermas
    (pp. 27-47)

    This chapter examines the role of sentiments in the theories of justice and norm justification defended by Rawls and Habermas. My purpose is partly to bring out the relationship between the right and the good in a way that attends more carefully than previous work has done to the complexity of each theory in this respect.¹ Doing so helps to clarify the place of affect within the procedures of practical reasoning that constitute deliberation about justice because conceptions of the good naturally engage affective modes of consciousness. To value something as good is to hold it as an object of...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Recent Alternatives to Rationalism
    (pp. 48-76)

    The rationalism that characterizes the moral standpoint in Rawls and Habermas has been challenged in recent years on a number of fronts. The critiques we pursue here all make affect central to their accounts of moral and political judgment. In this way, they depart from some earlier challenges to the rationalist model. For instance, the virtue theory that emerged in the 1980s in the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, among others, argued that the path to excellence in moral judgment runs not through abstract reasoning about universal obligations but rather through the cultivation of particular moral virtues.¹ Together the virtues constitute...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Moral Sentiment and the Politics of Judgment in Hume
    (pp. 77-110)

    Hume treated moral judgment as a reflective passion, a form of sentiment in which thought and feeling are integrated at the deepest level, yet structured in highly specified ways. Although he regarded sentiments as key to judgment, he did give the intellect an important role. He also took pains to establish the objectivity and impartiality of judgment. In fact, Humean judgment achieves its impartiality through the mechanism of a generalized perspective, and in this respect it bears a striking affinity to contemporary rationalist accounts of moral judgment and public deliberation. Yet Hume shows us why it is important to achieve...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Affective Judgment in Democratic Politics
    (pp. 111-141)

    To achieve the promise of impartiality, both the generalized standpoint and the standard of human nature within Humean judgment need to be regularly contested and informed by voices that challenge the status quo. Hume’s own account of judgment is incomplete on its own terms and in need of support from an explicitly articulated ideal of equal respect as well as a regime of liberal rights and contestatory democratic politics. Hume was no advocate of active democratic politics, of course. The notion of an engaged citizenry was associated in his mind with political turbulence,¹ including the excesses of the English civil...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Public Deliberation and the Feeling of Impartiality
    (pp. 142-174)

    Chapter 4 showed how liberal-democratic institutions and practices can enlarge moral sentiment, thus enhancing the impartiality of individual judgment among citizens on important public issues that raise questions of justice. Impartial moral judgment on the part of individuals plays an important role in the process of opinion-formation in liberal democracies, but when it comes to the formal procedures of will-formation, something more than the impartial judgment of individuals is needed. Public deliberation differs from moral judgment in the sense that it operates under distinctive constraints. Because it issues in decisions that are coercively enforced on all citizens through law, public...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The Affective Authority of Law
    (pp. 175-199)

    In liberal democracies public deliberation operates within the legal framework established by the constitution, which embodies a large part of the public’s horizon of concern. The framework is subject to critical evaluation, as particular elements of it sometimes become the focus of individual moral deliberation or collective political debate. As a general matter, however, the legal framework as a whole within which public deliberation transpires is authoritative in the constraints it imposes. Likewise, to the extent that the results of public deliberation take the form of laws and legally binding public policies, they draw on the authority of law for...

  11. CONCLUSION Toward a New Politics of Passion: Civil Passions and the Promise of Justice
    (pp. 200-204)

    To talk about the politics of passion stimulates images of protesters smashing windows, zealots breathing fire in the public square, even the dreaded suicide bomber. It makes us think of smoky backrooms where public officials trade their votes to enhance their personal power or sell their influence for wealth and privilege. It calls to mind the police officer whose racism is barely concealed, or the judge whose decisions reek of his fears and his prejudice. But the politics of passion points to so much more. Women’s suffrage, the end of Jim Crow laws, and the recent advances in freedom and...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 205-244)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 245-256)
  14. Index
    (pp. 257-262)