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Jeremy Waldron and the Circumstances of Politics / Alex, Latham-Gambi

Review of Politics

Swansea University Author: Alex, Latham-Gambi

Abstract

This article examines Jeremy Waldron’s concept of the ‘circumstances of politics’ (CoP), which he describes as the felt need for a common decision in the face of disagreement. Waldron uses the CoP to detach certain issues surrounding civic virtue and institutional design from questions about substan...

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Published in: Review of Politics
ISSN: 0034-6705 1748-6858
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa54266
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Abstract: This article examines Jeremy Waldron’s concept of the ‘circumstances of politics’ (CoP), which he describes as the felt need for a common decision in the face of disagreement. Waldron uses the CoP to detach certain issues surrounding civic virtue and institutional design from questions about substantive principles like justice, human rights etc.. While emphasis is often placed on the fact of disagreement, I argue that the other aspect of the CoP, the need for collective action, is in fact the more fundamental. Waldron’s arguments rely on an understanding that there is expressive value in citizens affirming commitment to the political community and on an awareness of how the nature of politics as public collective action is structured by the constitutional architecture. I argue that a lopsided focus on disagreement threatens to obscure the fact the political sphere is itself a fragile achievement that is in need of continual support.