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The essence of the Republic

Publicacions | 03/03/2010

Non-domination as the ideal which guides society and the state

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Philip Pettit describes in Llibertat i govern: republicanisme the fundamental theoretical corpus to define a present-day republican society. The Centre d’Estudis de Temes Contemporanis publishes this modern classic in Catalan and brings us closer to the essence of the Republic as a social form of government


Non-domination, understood as no-one being able to interfere in the life of the other at will and with impunity, is the main axis of republicanism as a political philosophy. Philip Pettit explains this in Llibertat i govern: republicanisme, one of the most influential books on republican theory in recent years. From Cicero and Machiavelli to the present day, the author outlines the historical line which defines the essence of republican ideas, with the aim of refreshing them and offering them to modern society to be applied so that their objectives can be attained.

Pettit submits his vision of republicanism to a dialectics with the liberal and communitarian theories, finding points in common but also profound differences, based on the idea of freedom itself. He opposes republican equalitarian non-domination to liberal non-interference, and the concept of the communitarian state, which can impose freedom, to a state which has to guarantee it in an active manner without becoming a form of domination itself. The Irish author moreover indicates a fundamental condition for the functioning of the republic: an active and organized society which constantly subjects its leaders to the scrutiny of democratic legitimacy. This is a book which offers very valuable keys in the current scenario of disaffection and authoritarian proposals.

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