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French Liberalism from Montesquieu to the Present Day

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Raf Geenens, Helena Rosenblatt, Larry Siedentop, Lucien Jaume, Céline Spector, Andrew Jainchill, Stephen Holmes, Cheryl Welch, Alan Kahan, Richard Whatmore, Philippe Steiner, Serge Audier, William Logue, Jean-Fabien Spitz, Aurelian Craiutu, Samuel Moyn
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  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107515536

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About the Authors
  • There is an enduring assumption that the French have never been and will never be liberal. As with all clichés, this contains a grain of truth, but it also overlooks an important school of thought that has been a constant presence in French intellectual and political culture for nearly three centuries: French political liberalism. In this collaborative volume, a distinguished group of philosophers, political theorists and intellectual historians uncover this unjustly neglected tradition. The chapters examine the nature and distinctiveness of French liberalism, providing a comprehensive treatment of major themes including French liberalism's relationship with republicanism, Protestantism, utilitarianism and the human rights tradition. Individual chapters are devoted to Montesquieu, Tocqueville, Aron, Lefort and Gauchet, as well as to some lesser known, yet important thinkers, including several political economists and French-style 'neoliberals'. French Liberalism from Montesquieu to the Present Day is essential reading for all those interested in the history of political thought.

    • A comprehensive treatment of one of the most significant movements of recent years in the study of the history of political thought
    • A world-class team of contributors including philosophers, political theorists and intellectual historians
    • The collection covers major themes and includes chapters on well known and lesser known political thinkers
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The excellent job done by the collection’s translator, Michael Breslin, should also be applauded." -European Review of History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107515536
    • length: 332 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. French liberalism, an overlooked tradition? Raf Geenens and Helena Rosenblatt
    Part I. In Search of a Lost Liberalism:
    2. Two liberal traditions Larry Siedentop
    3. The unity, diversity and paradoxes of French liberalism Lucien Jaume
    Part II. The French-Liberal Conception of Liberty: Loyal to its Republican Roots:
    4. Was Montesquieu liberal? The spirit of the laws in the history of liberalism Céline Spector
    5. The importance of Republican liberty in French liberalism Andrew Jainchill
    6. Rethinking liberalism and terror Stephen Holmes
    Part III. The Formative Era: Liberal Dealings with Key Issues in Nineteenth-Century France:
    7. On the need for a Protestant reformation: Constant, Sismondi, Guizot and Laboulaye Helena Rosenblatt
    8. 'Anti-Benthamism': utilitarianism and the French liberal tradition Cheryl Welch
    9. Tocqueville: liberalism and imperialism Alan Kahan
    Part IV. Economic Liberalism a la française:
    10. War, trade and empire: the dilemmas of French liberal political economy, 1780–1816 Richard Whatmore
    11. Competition and knowledge: French political economy as a science of government Philippe Steiner
    12. Is there a French neoliberalism? Serge Audier
    Part V. At the Dawn of Mass Democracy: Reassessing the Role of Collective Institutions:
    13. The 'sociological turn' in French liberal thought William Logue
    14. The 'illiberalism' of French liberalism: the individual and the state in the thought of Blanc, Dupont White and Durkheim Jean-Fabien Spitz
    Part VI. The Twentieth Century and Beyond:
    15. Raymond Aron and the tradition of political moderation in France Aurelian Craiutu
    16. The politics of individual rights: Marcel Gauchet and Claude Lefort Samuel Moyn.

  • Editors

    Raf Geenens, University of Leuven
    Raf Geenens is a postdoctoral researcher at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, where he also lectures on ethics and the history of natural law. His research, as a member of the Leuven-based research group RIPPLE, concerns contemporary models of democracy as well as the history of continental political philosophy. He is the co-editor of Reading Tocqueville: From Oracle to Actor (2007) and Does Truth Matter? Democracy and Public Space (2009) and is preparing a monograph on contemporary French philosopher Claude Lefort.

    Helena Rosenblatt, City University of New York
    Helena Rosenblatt is Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she teaches European Intellectual History. A specialist in French political thought, with a strong interest in religion, she is the author of Rousseau and Geneva: From the First Discourse to the Social Contract (1997) and Liberal Values: Benjamin Constant and the Politics of Religion (2008) and edited The Cambridge Companion to Constant (2009) and Rousseau's Second Discourse (2010). Her current research project is a history of liberalism. In 2010 Professor Rosenblatt won the Benjamin Constant prize offered by the Institut Benjamin Constant in Lausanne, Switzerland.


    Raf Geenens, Helena Rosenblatt, Larry Siedentop, Lucien Jaume, Céline Spector, Andrew Jainchill, Stephen Holmes, Cheryl Welch, Alan Kahan, Richard Whatmore, Philippe Steiner, Serge Audier, William Logue, Jean-Fabien Spitz, Aurelian Craiutu, Samuel Moyn

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