Volume 1, Issue 3, 2001
The Philosophy of John Rawls
Anthony Simon Laden
Republican Moments in Political Liberalism
The author argues that the distinctive aspects of political liberalism have historical roots in the republican tradition that is often described as “neo-roman,” and recently given articulation in the work of Q. Skinner and P. Pettit. The primary task of this paper will be to layout these correlations, to provide, as it were, a mapping between the vocabulary of the neo-roman theory and that of political liberalism. By tracing the genealogy of political liberalism, the author argues that we ought to rethink the history, the vocabulary, and conceptual framework of contemporary political philosophy. In particular, seeing political liberalism as a form of republican theory as well as a form of liberal theory changes how we understand it: it brings out certain distinctive features of the structure of the view that are often overlooked, such as its stress on certain civic duties and its conception of freedom as a freedom of the city. If leading republican and liberal thinkers turn out to have much in common, then we will have to rethink also our intellectual geography: we will have to sketch in some land-bridges between the continents.