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Vol 21 No 11 Nov/Dec 2016

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The Dissent of the Governed

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Stephen L. CarterWilliam Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Yale Law School, Connecticut, USA

ISBN13: 9780674212657
ISBN: 0674212657
Published: May 1998
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Format: Hardback
Price: Out of print



This text defends dialogue that negotiates conflict and keeps democracy alive, and at the same time it protrays America as dying from a refusal to engage in such a dialogue, a polity where everybody speaks, but nobody listens. It diagnoses the ailment of the body politic as the unwillingness of people in power to hear disagreement unless forced to, and precribes a new process of response. At the heart of this work is a re-reading of the Declaration of Independence that puts dissent, not consent, at the centre of the question of legitimacy of democratic government. The author argues that liberal constitutional ethos - the tendency to assume that the nation must everywhere be morally the same - pressures citizens to be other than themselves when being themselves would lead to disobedience. This he argues is particularly hard on the religious citizen whose sense of community may be quite different from that of the sovereign majority of citizens. This leads to a view for the autonomy of communities into which democratic citizens organize themselves as a condition for dissent, dialogue, and independence.

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