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"From Reflection and Choice": The Political Philosophy of the Federalist Papers and the Ratification Debate

Edited by: Will R. Jordan
Product Code: P604
ISBN: 9780881467444
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The essays in this collection were first presented at the 2018 A.V. Elliott Conference on Great Books and Ideas, the eleventh annual conference sponsored by Mercer University’s Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America's Founding Principles. The current era of intense partisan conflict is unlikely to be remembered for the excellence of its public discourse. Given this fact, we do well to remind ourselves that Americans were once capable of debating even the most important political questions in the popular press, and doing so at an extraordinarily high level. The debate over the ratification of the Constitution in 1787–1788 enlisted some of the country's greatest minds, and wrestled with issues fundamental to popular government in general and to the United States constitutional order in particular. This volume returns to the debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists, seeking to better understand the principles at stake, and asking, with Publius, "whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force." The book is divided into two major sections. The first considers the ratification debate itself, to examine first principles, and to get a clearer sense of the founders' project. The second turns to the ways in which the terms of the ratification debate echo down through American history and how they might be applied to inform contemporary political practice. Contributors to the volume include Jeremy D. Bailey, Roger Barrus, Elizabeth Kaufer Busch, Murray Dry, Kimberly Hurd Hale, Jon D. Schaff, Lynn Uzzell, Karl Walling, and Michael Zuckert.
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