Introduction: Democracy and Political Philosophy

  • Howard P. Kainz


The purpose of this book is to re-examine some of the pivotal concepts considered essential to, or frequently associated with, democracy, and the way in which these concepts are applied in contemporary political systems. However, when we consider the various contenders in the worldwide pursuit of democratic orthodoxy, it becomes immediately obvious that the term, ‘democracy’, is being used to describe almost every species of political system now prevalent except for an out-and-out non-socialist dictatorship. Thus we must be aware at the outset of the danger of developing a definition of democracy so diluted that it becomes meaningless.


Political Science Political Philosophy Social Contract Political Theory Body Politic 
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  1. 4.
    The ‘death’ of political philosophy was solemnly announced to the English-speaking world by Peter Laslett in the Introduction to Philosophy, Politics and Society (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1956). Numerous other works in the 1950s and early 1960s concluded the post mortems.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See John Plamenatz’ article, ‘The Uses of Political Theory’ in A. Quinton’s Political Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 1967).Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    For an especially thorough treatment of these developments, see Garry Wills, The Inventing of America (NY: Doubleday, 1978) pp. 95, 140ff, 150ff.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    For an extensive discussion of methodology in modern political science, see The Limits of Behaviorism in Political Science J. Charlesworth, ed. (Philadelphia: American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1962).Google Scholar
  5. 19.
    Lakoff, Equality in Political Philosophy (Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964) p. 237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 22.
    Charles Morris in The Pragmatic Movement in American Philosophy (NY: Braziller, 1970, p. 5) points to unquestioning acceptance of American democratic ideals as a quasi-axiom of pragmatic philosophy.Google Scholar
  7. We focus on pragmatism here, but similar observations might be made and have been made (see John Plamenatz, ‘Some American Images of Democracy’, in The Great Ideas Today (Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1968) about utilitarianism, an ethical theory thriving in America and similar in thrust to pragmatism, but imported from European philosophical sources.Google Scholar
  8. For a contrast-comparison of pragmatism and utilitarianism, see H. Kainz, Ethica Dialectica (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1979) pp. 140ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Howard P. Kainz 1984

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  • Howard P. Kainz

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