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Liberty and self in the political argument of republicanism, liberalism and postmodernism.

Ivison, Duncan Mackenzie (1993) Liberty and self in the political argument of republicanism, liberalism and postmodernism. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between the concepts of liberty and self in three different contexts - republicanism, liberalism, and post-modernism - all of which are products of particular historical traditions, and which present themselves as alternative 'languages' and practices in political argument today. I attempt to delineate the relation between the self and the concept of liberty within which it operates in each context, and more generally, questions concerning the relationship between personality and polity. The tendency of much recent historical and analytical scholarship when looking at these issues, has been to emphasize the radical differences between the traditions and their conceptual foundations, especially between republicanism and liberalism. Without minimizing the obvious differences, 1 have sought rather in this thesis to emphasize some important similarities in the way each approaches the issues of agency, liberty, and the role and justification of social arrangements. This entails a distinctive reading of some aspects in the history of the development of republican and liberal political argument, particularly in John Locke. An important theme here is the tension between assumptions of natural liberty and autonomy, and the role of the community and government in constructing, fostering, and disciplining the very autonomy that is presupposed. Arguing that the differing accounts of the relation between liberty and self are, in important ways, constitutive of the debate between 'communitarians' and 'proceduralists', I turn to contemporary Rawlsian liberal political theory to see if we can't stand back from this conventional way of looking at the problem and re-think the relations. [Towards this end I make some remarks on the relation between the history of political thought and (so- called) 'analytical' Political theory.] I argue that liberal political theory must be 'perfectionist', though not in the way that communitarians argue, and not in the way that liberals fear. Indeed it must be so if it is to have any chance for success, though 'perfectionism' is a particularly inappropriate way of talking here, and has been taken up too easily and uncritically in the literature. Civic republican practices have something to teach us in this context, though not simply the way they respect the 'negative liberty' of individuals within a scheme of mutually enforcing rights and duties. This leads me in part, to consider how liberalism tries to make transparent elements of not only state coercion, but institutional, social, and non-juridical forms of power which work on, or through, citizens of modem democracies, and how these power relations manifest themselves in modem concepts of liberty, and conceptions of the self. Finally, I consider some aspects of the work of Michel Foucault, particularly a series of lectures and papers he gave on liberalism and 'neo-liberalism' to see if he offers a vantage point (if anything) from which to evaluate our conventional ways of talking about, and acting on, our concepts of liberty and self.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1301

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