Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 14, 1988/1989

Peter Fuss
Pages 165-181

James Madison and the Classical Republican Tradition

The thesis pursued here is that Madison, in articulating the principles of political philosophy underlying his defense of the proposed constitution in his contributions to the Federalist Papers of 1787-8, can best be understood as at once invoking, enriching, and on several key points all but abandoning the “classical republican” or “civic humanist” tradition. I analyze the ambivalent character of Madison’s response to Plato and Aristotle, Machiavelli and Rousseau with respect to the quality and complexity of the body politic, the principle of representation, the containment of factionalism, and the nature of political legitimation and renewal.

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