The Political Theory of the American Founding: Natural Rights, Public Policy, and the Moral Conditions of Freedom

by Thomas G. West

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This book provides a complete overview of the American Founders' political theory, covering natural rights, natural law, state of nature, social compact, consent, and the policy implications of these ideas. The book is intended as a response to the current scholarly consensus, which holds that the Founders' political thought is best understood as an amalgam of liberalism, republicanism, and perhaps other traditions. West argues that, on the contrary, the foundational documents overwhelmingly point to natural rights as the lens through which all politics is understood. The book explores in depth how the Founders' supposedly republican policies on citizen character formation do not contradict but instead complement their liberal policies on property and economics. Additionally, the book shows how the Founders' embraced other traditions in their politics, such as common law and Protestantism.




















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How much can we squeeze out of the founders general natural rights philosophy in terms of actual public policy? Much more than we might expectContents 1 Career 2 Selected Works and Appearances 2.1 Books 2.2 Edited Volumes 2.3 Public Appearances 3 References 4 External links The laws of nature, founded in reasons judgement of what is useful for human life and happiness, he writes, become morally obligatory only when they take on a juridical or legal characterAlthough not direct implications of the natural law, some other policies and constitutional structures are the inventions of prudence (to borrow a phrase from Federalist 51) shown by historical practice to be useful for establishing good government: federalism, separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and the likeCancel Log in 4, p413414MillerEpSkip Main Navigation Eventbrite Search menu Search for events Browse Events Learn More Blog Resources Fees How it works Features Music Ticketing Help Where are my tickets? How to contact the event organizer Help Center Menu Help Sign up Log in Create Event Sign up Log in Create Event The key, for West, is recognizing that the founders distinguished the purpose of politics (securing rights) from the purpose of life (happiness), and the founders created a society that remained open to the private pursuit of nobility, wisdom, piety, and the higher goods that were supposedly sublimated by the founders into the base pursuit of material gainThe requirements of security are dictated by the challenges and threats we face in the worldEmphasis added[45] George Washington, First Inaugural Address, George Washington: A Collection, pBut in praising the cause of freedom in France, Washington made explicit the grounds on which Americans would evaluate the true merits of the French Revolution: I rejoice that libertynow finds an asylum in the bosom of a regularly organized government; a government, which, being formed to secure the happiness of the French people, corresponds with the ardent wishes of my heart, while it gratifies the pride of every citizen of the United States, by its resemblance to their own.[48] It is one thing to unfurl the banners of freedom but quite another to actually establish constitutional governmentA policy of global noninvolvement would be as prudent for a weak nation as it would be foolish for a strong onefrom Cornell and his Ph.D(This is the root of that laziest of liberal tropes about the side of history.) West believes (and I agree) that the achievement of the American founding was crystalizing the accumulated and hard-won political wisdom of two millennia of western civilization into a truly novus ordo secloruma new order for the ages, meaning an advance of human social order based on permanent principles of right. Terms & Use Privacy 171bf2437f
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