Download American Liberalism: An Interpretation for Our Time by John McGowan PDF

By John McGowan

Americans reside in a liberal democracy. but, even though democracy is largely touted at the present time, liberalism is scorned by way of either the ideal and the left. the us stands poised among its liberal democratic culture and the intolerant choices of liberalism's critics. In an enticing and informative dialogue, McGowan deals a ringing endorsement of yankee liberalism's easy rules, values, and commitments. He explains that the liberalism of the founders allotted strength generally with a purpose to restrict the facility anyone entity may perhaps workout over others. Their objective was once to supply for all a good freedom that mixed the best to self-determination being able to in achieving one's self-chosen pursuits. In tracing this heritage, McGowan bargains a transparent imaginative and prescient of liberalism's foundational values as America's top warrantly at the present time of liberty and the peace during which to workout it.

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Additional resources for American Liberalism: An Interpretation for Our Time

Sample text

A totally “arbitrary” power—unfettered by natural laws, by canons of logic and consistency, by moral principles, by cultural and historical traditions, or by institutional procedures—would make all human action untenable. Human agency relies on a felt capacity to make decisions on the basis of imaginatively projecting certain results from undertaking certain actions. Only if humans successfully move much of the time from decision through action to something fairly close to the desired result can they develop a sense of human power, of the capacity to influence the course of events and the course of their own lives.

For that reason, liberalism believes the influence should also work in the other direction. There must be means established for the people to influence the law. American liberalism provides three crucial mechanisms for revising the 22 H liberalism: principles and values law—and, ultimately, the Constitution. The first are the explicit rules for formal amendment. The second is normal legislation. The Constitution hardly claims to be a complete body of law. Rather, it establishes the framework within which the people and their representatives engage in the ongoing task of devising and elaborating society’s laws.

The law is an expedient to protect us from some of our worst human tendencies, but it cannot save us from ourselves each and every time. It can itself become an instrument for the enactment of those tendencies. The law is not a deus ex machina. It does not come from elsewhere to ensure justice. Whether or not it serves more to secure justice than to prevent it is entirely in the hands of its human practitioners. And that, for the most part, is a hopeful fact since a nonhuman understanding of the law and its foundation all too often licenses the most inhuman treatment of human beings by other human beings, while also placing the law beyond question and reform.

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