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A Political and Philosophical History


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  • Date Published: August 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107448544

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About the Authors
  • This book offers for the first time a conceptual history of compromise. Alin Fumurescu combines contextual historical analysis of daily parlance and a survey of the usage of the word from the end of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the eighteenth century in both French and English with an analysis of canonical texts in the history of political thought. This book fills a significant gap in the literature about compromise and demonstrates the connection between different understandings of compromise and corresponding differences in understandings of political representation. In addition, Fumurescu addresses two controversial contemporary debates about when compromise is beneficial and when it should be avoided at all costs. A better understanding of the genealogy of compromise offers new venues for rethinking basic assumptions regarding political representation and the relationship between individuals and politics.

    • Offers for the first time a conceptual history of compromise
    • Comparatively surveys the usages of compromise in France and Great Britain during the seventeenth century, showing how the positive and negative meanings of compromise evolved from different understandings of representation and self-representation
    • Addresses two controversial contemporary debates about when compromise is beneficial and when it should be avoided at all costs
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    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this bold, scrupulous, and wholly original work of political theory, Alin Fumurescu undertakes a genealogy of this crucial but frequently maligned concept. In a fascinating reconstruction of the etymology of compromise, Fumurescu traces the roots of our ambivalence to the early modern world, when a largely positive English view that regards compromise as a healthy attribute of liberal politics diverged sharply from the French contempt for compromise as a betrayal of our innermost conscience. The author moves effortlessly from Athens and Rome to early modern Europe and beyond, connecting back up with today's philosophical discussions of compromise. By tracing clear lines of influence between early modern intellectual history and our contemporary political tribulations, the author succeeds where many works of political theory fall short. Fumurescu's insights will be of interest to historians, philosophers, political theorists, and policy makers alike.' Richard Boyd, Georgetown University

    'When should you compromise, and when should you stick to your guns? There are many occasions in life and politics when it would be helpful to have a reliable answer to this question. One way of answering it is to survey the options, to see the answers that people have given over the years, and that is one of the things that this book does. But it does much more: it also carries out a profound philosophical analysis of the concept and of the many answers that have been given … If we can learn from the past, we can use this book to chart the future of compromise, the future that can be expected in different social and political regimes of this very valuable alternative to violence.' John Christian Laursen, University of California, Riverside

    'This is intellectual history at its finest. Fumurescu presents a 'conceptual genealogy' of the hitherto surprisingly under-theorized concept of moral and political compromise since the sixteenth century. Focusing on both minor and canonical writings in the continental European and Anglo-American worlds, Fumurescu reveals conceptual tensions and ambiguities that continue to underpin contemporary understandings of the value and dangers of compromise in politics. His determination to pursue the evidence wherever it leads, from the classical and medieval worlds to contemporary political controversy, has resulted in a very wide ranging, erudite, and yet thoroughly accessible study. Any future work on the character of modern individualism, political representation, and self-representation, as well as the varieties of modern contractualism, will be obliged to take Fumurescu's novel and profoundly challenging theses into account.' Martyn P. Thompson, Tulane University

    'Fumerescu has written one of the most interesting books of political theory in a long time … Writing with wit, depth, and an astonishing command of history and philosophy … Fumurescu investigates not only the etymology of the word [compromise] but the causes of its various shifts in meaning and the intellectual and practical consequences of those changes … a startling interesting story, and no one has ever told it better, for Fumurescu is doing more than merely regaling readers: this is both serious history and serious political theory … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research, and professional collections.' M. Berheide, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107448544
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: 'in politics we have an art...'
    2. No compromise about compromise
    3. The genealogy of compromise and its vagaries
    4. The dialectic of the individual
    5. Compromise and centripetal individualism
    6. Compromise and centrifugal individualism
    7. The forgotten road of representation: continental contractarian theories
    8. The British contract as com-promise
    9. Conclusions: compromising the art of compromise - the one-dimensional man.

  • Author

    Alin Fumurescu, Tulane University, Louisiana
    Alin Fumurescu is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Tulane University.


    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013

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