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Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life
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Book description

What does citizenship have to do with living a worthy human life? Political scientists and philosophers who study the practice of citizenship, including Rawlsian liberals and Niebuhrian realists, have tended to either relegate this question to the private realm or insist that ethical principles must be silenced or seriously compromised in our deliberations as citizens. This book argues that the insulation of public life from the ethical standpoint puts in jeopardy not only our integrity as persons but also the legitimacy and long-term survival of our political communities. In response to this predicament, David Thunder aims to rehabilitate the ethical standpoint in political philosophy, by defending the legitimacy and importance of giving full play to our deepest ethical commitments in our civic roles and developing a set of guidelines for citizens who wish to enact their civic roles with integrity.


'David Thunder makes an excellent case for the wholeness of citizenship, in which the best citizen and the best person come together. His analysis is useful whether one agrees or not and is stated so agreeably that all can admire its clarity and persuasiveness.'

Harvey C. Mansfield - Harvard University, and Hoover Institution, Stanford University

'It is commonly held by political philosophers and theologians that the ethical principles that guide one in one’s attempt to live a worthy human life should not be decisive for what one does in one’s role as citizen; that role, so it is said, has its own distinct principles and source of principles. David Thunder makes the most detailed and powerful case anyone has yet made against this separationist thesis and in support of the opposing integrationist thesis: that we should give our deepest ethical commitments full play in what we do as citizens. Not only does personal ethical integrity require it; liberal democracy is in danger if citizens wall off the role of citizen from the norms and values that make for a worthy human life. Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life is the ‘against the grain’ book that those of us who do not buy the separationist thesis have long been looking for.'

Nicholas Wolterstorff - Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, Yale University, and University of Virginia

'Thunder’s passionately argued, nonconsequentialist book claims that it is possible for both citizens and leaders in a constitutional democracy to practice the virtues and integrity that entail a 'worthy' life, without the ethical or moral compromises that some authors claim may be necessary in public life.'

C. P. Waligorski Source: Choice

'Thunder's account of the role of citizenship in a worthy life is a broadly attractive on, and he defends it quite able in his penultimate chapter against six important objections to his integrationist thesis. He writes, moreover, with clarity and grace.'

Richard Dagger Source: The Review of Politics

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