Contested Truths: Keywords in American Politics since Independence

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Contention, argument, and power have always been the tradition in American political talk. Any country that began in a revolution was bound to have this history. But the language of argument uses particular words with particular, sometimes shifting, meanings and to know what they are and what they meant over time is a critical contribution to political history. It is true that politicians may act as though they are part of no particular ideological tradition, but history shows that, more often than not, they use ...

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Overview

Contention, argument, and power have always been the tradition in American political talk. Any country that began in a revolution was bound to have this history. But the language of argument uses particular words with particular, sometimes shifting, meanings and to know what they are and what they meant over time is a critical contribution to political history. It is true that politicians may act as though they are part of no particular ideological tradition, but history shows that, more often than not, they use an understood meaning to enhance their actions. As Daniel Rodgers shows in this book, rhetoric has consequences.

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Editorial Reviews

Benjamin Barber
Daniel Rodgers offers a vivid retelling of the American political experience as a contest of words and a contest for ideas by a people to whom language had become an indispensable tool of revolution and statecraft. -- Benjamin Barber
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465014163
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 7/7/1989
  • Pages: 288

Meet the Author

Daniel T. Rodgers is Professor of History at Princeton University.

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Table of Contents

PROLOGUE

Words and Acts

Tools and Paradigms

Keywords

UTILITY

The Puzzling Failure of Jeremy Bentham

Antimetaphysics

Influence

Quicksands of Expediency

The Frame of Political Argument

NATURAL RIGHTS

Declarations

A State of Nature

Delimiting Rights

Certain Political Rituals

Revival

THE PEOPLE

Mechanics and Majorities

Popular Sovereignty

Revolutionary Assemblies

The Identity of the People

GOVERNMENT

The Rhetoric of Counterrevolution

A Christian Party In Politics

Property Reconsidered

Human Rights and Sacred Obligations

The People Deposed

THE STATE

Professional Political Science

Constitutional Law

The Grammar of a Profession

Webs of Contradiction

The Uses of an Abstraction

INTERESTS

Highbrow and Lowbrow

The Common Good

Utilitarianism Redivivus

Empirical Political Science

The Disappearing Public

The Rhetoric of Realism

EPILOGUE

The Conflations of Freedom

Rights without Retrospection

Public Talk

Notes

Guide To Further Reading

Index

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