The Virtues of Liberalism

Paperback | August 15, 2000

byJames T. Kloppenberg

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This spirited analysis--and defense--of American liberalism demonstrates the complex and rich traditions of political, economic, and social discourse that have informed American democratic culture from the seventeenth century to the present. The Virtues of Liberalism provides a convincingresponse to critics both right and left. Against conservatives outside the academy who oppose liberalism because they equate it with license, James T. Kloppenberg uncovers ample evidence of American republicans' and liberal democrats' commitments to ethical and religious ideals and their awarenessof the difficult choices involved in promoting virtue in a culturally diverse nation. Against radical academic critics who reject liberalism because they equate it with Enlightenment reason and individual property holding, Kloppenberg shows the historical roots of American liberals' dual commitmentsto diversity, manifested in institutions designed to facilitate deliberative democracy, and to government regulations of property and market exchange in accordance with the public good. In contrast to prevailing tendencies to simplify and distort American liberalism, Kloppenberg shows how the multifaceted virtues of liberalism have inspired theorists and reformers from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison through Jane Addams and John Dewey to Martin Luther King, Jr., and thenexplains how these virtues persist in the work of some liberal democrats today. Endorsing the efforts of such neo-progressive and communitarian theorists and journalists as Michael Walzer, Jane Mansbridge, Michael Sandel, and E. J. Dionne, Kloppenberg also offers a more acute analysis of thehistorical development of American liberalism and of the complex reasons why it has been transformed and made more vulnerable in recent decades. An intelligent, coherent, and persuasive canvas that stretches from the Enlightenment to the American Revolution, from Tocqueville's observations to the New Deal's social programs, and from the right to worship freely to the idea of ethical responsibility, this book is a valuable contribution tohistorical scholarship and to contemporary political and cultural debates.

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This spirited analysis--and defense--of American liberalism demonstrates the complex and rich traditions of political, economic, and social discourse that have informed American democratic culture from the seventeenth century to the present. The Virtues of Liberalism provides a convincingresponse to critics both right and left. Against...

James T. Kloppenberg is Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies in American History at Brandeis University, where he has taught since completing his Ph.D. in History and Humanities at Stanford University in 1980. He is co-editor, with Richard Wightman Fox, of A Companion to American Thought (1995), and author of Uncertai...

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Format:PaperbackPublished:August 15, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195140567

ISBN - 13:9780195140569

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"James Kloppenberg has written a scholarly book at odds with the temper of the times...Kloppenberg has crafted his essays on American political thought in clear, self-contained, unpretentious prose...Kloppenberg, who does not hesitate to proclaim in the opening pages his devotion to aprincipled liberalism, a prudent progressivism, and a non-doctrinaire pragmatism, provides in their name an intelligent and learned overview of the conflicting elements and multivalent ideas that, his book demonstrates, have constituted American political thought from before the birth of therepublic...learned and thoughtful essays."--The Boston Review of Books