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The People's Duty
Collective Agency and the Morality of Public Policy


  • Date Published: June 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108480925

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • Can we talk about 'the people' as an agent with its own morally important integrity? How should we understand ownership of public property by 'the people'? Nili develops philosophical answers to both of these questions, arguing that we should see the core project of a liberal legal system - realizing equal rights - as an identity-grounding project of the sovereign people, and thus as essential to the people's integrity. He also suggests that there are proprietary claims that are intertwined in the sovereign people's moral power to create property rights through the legal system. The practical value of these ideas is illustrated through a variety of real-world policy problems, ranging from the domestic and international dimensions of corruption and abuse of power, through transitional justice issues, to the ethnic and religious divides that threaten liberal democracy. This book will appeal to political theorists as well as readers in public policy, area studies, law, and across the social sciences.

    • Proposes a new way to think about the morality of public policy
    • Written in a highly accessible, non-technical style
    • Replete with real-world examples from around the world
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Who are 'the people,' in a moral sense, and how should we think about the people as protecting their collective integrity? We have many theoretical and philosophical treatments of private property, but what about public property? In addition to answering these questions, of great relevance for our times, Shmuel Nili's The People's Duty is an accessible political philosophy that takes seriously the complexity of corruption and abuse of power.' Susan Stokes, Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago

    'The People's Duty argues that, while it is individual people who should remain at the focus of political theory - that, in a broad sense, is what makes the theory liberal - the perspective of the people as a group agent is essential to the proper interpretation of liberal values and to their effective implementation in practical politics. It is an original and illuminating contribution to our thinking about the state, and should command wide attention.' Philip Pettit, L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Human Values, Princeton University and Australian National University

    'Nili's pathbreaking book gives us an original way to think about the liberal state and its obligations, both to itself and to others. This provocative book will help the reader see liberalism and the state in new and important ways.' Jeff Spinner-Halev, Kenan Eminent Professor of Political Ethics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108480925
    • length: 262 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The people's integrity
    2. The people's property
    3. The people's integrity, the people's property, and the abuse of political power
    4. Their property, our integrity: the democratic response to the problem of odious debt
    5. Policy priorities for a divided people: Israel as a case study

  • Author

    Shmuel Nili, Northwestern University, Illinois
    Shmuel Nili is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, Illinois, and a research fellow at the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University, Canberra. He has published widely in leading journals, including Ethics, The American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, and the American Journal of Political Science.

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