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International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition



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Republicanism is the doctrine that public power should always serve the common good of all those subject to its rule. This raises the question how to do so most effectively, either through particular policies or through constitutional structure (‘the republican form of government'). The republican philosophical tradition began with Plato and Aristotle, flowered in the writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero, and reappeared with the revival of learning in such authors as Niccolo Machiavelli, James Harrington, John Adams, and Immanuel Kant. More recently Philip Peuit, Jürgen Habermas, and others have returned to the republican conception of liberty as nondomination, and how to secure this through the rule of law, popular sovereignty, and the checks and balances of well-designed deliberative politics. Republicanism seeks freedom and justice through law and government in pursuit of the common good.



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