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John R. Wallach
CUNY Research Foundation, Hunter College (New York, NY 10065-5024)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2012 – 7/31/2012

Democracy and Virtue: Sisyphean Projects in History and Political Theory

This project addresses the ongoing tension between democracy as a form of political power and virtue as a form of political ethics. It proceeds by focusing on historical moments in which the authority of democracy as a political form is contested. In contrast to previous philosophical and political discussions of virtue, this project looks at virtue not simply as an illustration of character, individual agency, or elite behavior but as a necessary complement to political, and particularly democratic, authority--even though its relationship to the latter is fraught. As such, virtue assumes the forms of arete, representation, civil liberty and equality, legitimation, and human rights. Four periods serve as complementary historical foci for the study: ancient Athens; the era of modernizing, liberal revolutions; 19th century civil society; the 20th century nation-state; the contemporary, global era. Its evidence justifies a complementary relationship between democracy and virtue.