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Political institutions are the main subject of political theory-or they ought to be. Jeremy Waldron argues for reorienting the theory of politics toward the institutions of modern democracy and the mechanisms through which democratic ideals are achieved. Too many political theorists are preoccupied with the nature of justice, liberty, and equality, at the cost of ignoring the governmental institutions needed to achieve them. By contrast, political scientists have kept institutions in view but deploy a meager set of value-conceptions in analyzing them. Waldron considers the uses and abuses of an array of institutions and traditions, from separation of powers and bicameralism to judicial review of legislation, the principle of loyal opposition, the nature of representation, accountability, and the rule of law. He provides a critical perspective on the role of courts in a constitutional democracy and offers an illuminating critique of the contrasting views of Hannah Arendt and Isaiah Berlin. Even if political theorists remain fixated on expounding the philosophical foundations of democracy, Waldron argues, a firmer grasp of the means through which democracy is realized is also needed. This is what political political theory means: theory addressing the way institutions orchestrate resolutions to disputes over social ideals.
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About the Author

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor in the School of Law at New York University.

Reviews

This is a brilliant book. It will excite readers and spark a revival of constitutional concerns that people might once have believed had been consigned to the history of ideas.--Marc Stears, University of Oxford The problem with revolutionary politics, in short, is that it tends to be naive about political institutions. I can recommend no better corrective than liberal political philosopher Jeremy Waldron, and no better introduction to his thinking than his recently published collection of essays, Political Political Theory... To read Waldron is to reawaken ideas that so shape our world that they typically only live in the background of political theory and debate. It is to survey the pantheon of constitutional liberalism--Locke, Montesquieu, Condorcet, Madison, Kant, Mill, et al.--to step into their shoes and think hard about bicameralism, bills of rights, and judicial review, and appreciate the enormity of their intellectual and real-world achievements.--David V. Johnson"Dissent" (08/16/2016)

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