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American Philosophy before Pragmatism$
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Russell B. Goodman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199577545

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577545.001.0001

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Interlude: Strands of Republican Thought

Interlude: Strands of Republican Thought

(p.88) 3 Interlude: Strands of Republican Thought
American Philosophy before Pragmatism

Russell B. Goodman

Oxford University Press

Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and the other American Founders understood themselves to be forging a “republic,” but what did they mean by this term? There is no essence to the term republic as it was used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but rather a set of overlapping strands: that governments owe their authority to the people rather than to a divinity or human nobility; that governments should be mixed or divided, embodying checks and balances; that governments are composed of representatives rather than the people themselves; that corruption, especially from excessive wealth, is a danger that republics are designed to address; that law creates, rather than imposes upon, freedom; that freedom is substantially communal and relational. The chapter concludes with a discussion of slavery as embodied in the U.S. Constitution and defended in the Federalist.

Keywords:   Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Federalist, representative, government, corruption, slavery

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