PHILIP PETTIT On The People’s Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy

Philip Pettit

In political philosophy, republicanism is the name of a distinctive framework for thinking about politics. At its core is a unique conception of freedom according to which freedom consists in non-domination, that is, in not having a master or lord, in not being subject to the arbitrary will of another.  This republican conception of the free person contrasts with a competing and familiar view according to which freedom is primarily a property, not of persons, but of choices. In this view, one is free insofar as one enjoys the absence of interference.

For the past few decades, Philip Pettit has been engaged in a sustained effort to revive republicanism as an approach to political philosophy. In a series of articles and books, he has developed and defended the republican conception of freedom.  In his latest book, On The People’s Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy(Cambridge University Press, 2012), Pettit articulates a conception of democracy to accompany the fundamental republican commitment to freedom as non-domination. The book examines the full range of topics, from justice to legitimacy and institutional design.  This is a highly detailed and meticulously argued book.