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Civic Virtue and Self-Interest

The American Political Science Review
Vol. 89, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 147-151
DOI: 10.2307/2083081
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2083081
Page Count: 5
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Civic Virtue and Self-Interest
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Abstract

In this Review in 1993 Shelley Burtt critiqued contemporary republican theorists who urge a reinvigorated citizenry steeped in the ideal of civic virtue. Christopher Duncan finds the essence of Burtt's argument to be that such a revival is not feasible given the level of self-sacrifice required from citizens. He suggests, however, that contemporary republican theorists, like their ancient predecessor Aristotle, are not calling for altruism or the forsaking of self-interest. Rather, virtuous political participation rightly understood is, in fact, among the highest forms of self-interested behavior. Burtt replies that her earlier remarks discussed a part of the republican revival that had little to do with an Aristotelian politics of virtue, which indeed offers an attractive account of political life as a crucial element in individual self-fulfillment. But she notes also that liberalism rightly reminds us of the dangers of public mobilization and concentrated power; moreover, the political and practical obstacles to private reeducation of the citizenry remain.

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