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The General Will, the Common Good, and a Democracy of Standards

The republican idea that freedom requires the absence of domination argues for having a state that does not publicly dominate the very citizens it protects, in the republican ideal, against private domination. But how to program institutionally for public non-domination? Rousseau’s revisionary idea of forcing government to act only on the general will of all fails for various reasons. But the older republican idea of forcing government to act only for the common good, with the common good crystallizing in standards that gain acceptance as premises of public deliberation, fares much better. It directs us towards a plausible criterion of state legitimacy.


Professor Philip Pettit
Princeton University and
Australian National University
PHILIP PETTIT is L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University and also Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University. His recent single-authored books include Republicanism (OUP 1997); A Theory of Freedom (OUP 2001); On the People's Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy (CUP 2012); and Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World (W.W.Norton 2014). He is fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy, Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and fellow of the Australian academies in Humanities and Social Sciences.
Date: Wednesday March 14, 2018
Time: 16.30 (Tea Reception at 16.15)
Venue: Social Sciences Chamber, 11/F., The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
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Poster: check here