According to republican theory, we are free persons to the extent that we are protected and secured in the same fundamental choices, on the same public basis, as one another. But there is no public protection or security without a coercive state. Does this mean that any freedom we enjoy is a superficial good that presupposes a deeper, political form of subjection? Philip Pettit addresses this crucial question in On the People's Terms. He argues that state coercion will not involve individual subjection or domination insofar as we enjoy an equally shared form of control over those in power. This claim may seem utopian but it is supported by a realistic model of the institutions that might establish such democratic control. Beginning with a fresh articulation of republican ideas, Pettit develops a highly original account of the rationale of democracy, breathing new life into democratic theory.
Philip Pettit is L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, New Jersey and also Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University, Canberra. His books include The Common Mind, Republicanism, Rules, Reasons and Norms and Made with Words: Hobbbes on Language, Mind and Politics. Among his recent co-authored books are The Economy of Esteem, with Geoffrey Brennan; A Political Philosophy in Public Life, with Jose Marti; and Group Agency, with Christian List. A collection of papers on his work, Common Minds: Themes from the Philosophy of Philip Pettit, appeared in 2007.
Introduction: the republic, old and new; 1. Freedom as non-domination; 2. Social justice; 3. Political legitimacy; 4. Democratic influence; 5. Democratic control; Conclusion: the argument, in summary.