Uncivil Society

Uncivil Society : The Perils of Pluralism and the Making of Modern Liberalism

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In Uncivil Society, Richard Boyd argues contrarily that contemporary political theorist and social scientists have unduly neglected the "uncivil" properties of groups. Through a careful reading of such exemplary figures as Hobbes, Locke, the Scottish Moralist, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Michael Oakeshott in the classical liberal tradition - and their defense of the virtue of civility - this work calls into question many contemporary assumptions about the nature and origins of civil society.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 332 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 33mm | 657.72g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0739109081
  • 9780739109083

Review quote

In his book, Richard Boyd offers a thoughtful reappraisal of the relation between the idea of civil society and the tradition of liberal political thought. He questions the view held by many contemporary political theorists that the development of civil society, understood as the realm of what Tocqueville called "voluntary associations" mediating between the individual and the state, is a necessary condition for the maintenance of liberal democracy. Against this position, Boyd argues that an earlier tradition of liberal thought was justifiably suspicious of the potential for subpolitical social groups-especially, but not limited to, intolerant religious sects-to undermine rather than support liberal institutions. In a series of well-argued chapters, he traces the trajectory of the connected ideas of civil society and social pluralism from initial suspicion to perhaps uncritical acceptance. Perspectives on Politics Richard Boyd has written an ambitious, intelligent, insightful, and challenging book ... anyone interested in the history of liberalism, in the current debates over the lack of community, in the status or location of civil society will be both challenged and enlightened. -- Christopher J. Berry, University of Glasgowshow more

About Richard Boyd

Richard Boyd is Assistant Professor of Political Science at The University of Wisconsin-Madison.show more

Table of contents

1 Introduction: Civic Associations and the Liberal Tradition 2 Chapter One: Thomas Hobbes and the Perils of Pluralism 3 Chapter Two: John Locke, Toleration, and Sectarianism 4 Chapter Three: Reappraising the Scottish Moralists and Civil Society 5 Chapter Four: Edmund Burke's Defense of Civil Society 6 Chapter Five: John Stuart Mill and the Modern Liberal Ambivalence to Groups 7 Chapter Six: Alexis de Tocqueville and the Perils of Pluralism Revisited 8 Chapter Seven: Michael Oakeshott and the Transformational (Im)possibilities of the Liberal State 9 Chapter Eight: F. A. Hayek and the Limits of Liberal Constitutionalism 10 Conclusion: Liberal Neutrality, Purposive Community, and the Logic of Contemporary Pluralismshow more

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