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1 Hawthorne US History- US Presidency

Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism: Lincoln, Douglas, and Moral Conflict

by

Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism: Lincoln, Douglas, and Moral Conflict Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1858, challenger Abraham Lincoln debated incumbent Stephen Douglas seven times in the race for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. More was at stake than slavery in those debates. In Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism, John Burt contends that the very legitimacy of democratic governance was on the line. In a United States stubbornly divided over ethical issues, the overarching question posed by the Lincoln-Douglas debates has not lost its urgency: Can a liberal political system be used to mediate moral disputes? And if it cannot, is violence inevitable?

As they campaigned against each other, both Lincoln and Douglas struggled with how to behave when an ethical conflict as profound as the one over slavery strained the commitment upon which democracy depends--namely, to rule by both consent and principle. This commitment is not easily met, because what conscience demands and what it is able to persuade others to consent to are not always the same. While Lincoln ultimately avoided a politics of morality detached from consent, and Douglas avoided a politics of expediency devoid of morality, neither found a way for liberalism to mediate the conflict of slavery.

That some disputes seemed to lie beyond the horizon of deal-making and persuasion and could be settled only by violence revealed democracy's limitations. Burt argues that the unresolvable ironies at the center of liberal politics led Lincoln to discover liberalism's tragic dimension--and ultimately led to war. Burt's conclusions demand reevaluations of Lincoln and Douglas, the Civil War, and democracy itself.

Synopsis:

In their famous debates, Lincoln and Douglas struggled with how to behave when an ethical conflict like slavery strained democracy's commitment to rule by both consent and principle. What conscience demands and what it can persuade others to agree to are not always the same. Ultimately, this tragic limitation of liberalism led Lincoln to war.

About the Author

John Burt is Professor of English at Brandeis University.

Brandeis University

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674050181
Author:
Burt, John
Publisher:
Belknap Press
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
Subject:
Philosophy | Ethics
Subject:
PHILOSOPHY / Political
Subject:
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Subject:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies/Conservatism & Liberalism
Subject:
Social Science-Slavery
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
20130131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
832
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » General
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Lincoln, Abraham
History and Social Science » US History » US Presidency
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Philosophy » Ethics
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Lincoln's Tragic Pragmatism: Lincoln, Douglas, and Moral Conflict Used Hardcover
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Product details 832 pages Belknap Press - English 9780674050181 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In their famous debates, Lincoln and Douglas struggled with how to behave when an ethical conflict like slavery strained democracy's commitment to rule by both consent and principle. What conscience demands and what it can persuade others to agree to are not always the same. Ultimately, this tragic limitation of liberalism led Lincoln to war.
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