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Alexis de Tocqueville on Institutions - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 64
Institutions/Tocqueville/Forbes: (...) political institutions obviously have economic functions, but they also claim to promote justice and the good life, and their various ways of understanding these goals and pursuing them raise factual and interpretive questions that invite inquiry. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835,p 1840(1)), particularly its first volume, is an outstanding example of such inquiry. (...) he wanted to show, in detail, the affinity between the institutions of a stable democracy and the culture or psychology – the ‘social condition’ – of its citizens. American political institutions, he thought, expressed the beliefs of a people lacking high aristocratic ambitions and they encouraged those under their authority to pursue practical economic goals. >Purposes/political philosophy.


1. Tocqueville, Alexis de (1966) Democracy in America (1835, 1840), trans. George Lawrence, ed. J. P. Mayer. New York: Harper and Row.

Forbes, H. Donald 2004. „Positive Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Tocqueville, Alexis de
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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