Report on Workshop 24 : Republican Theory, Republican Practice
Directors: Iseult Honohan, Jeremy Jennings.This workshop sought to confront normative theory with historical and comparativeanalysis in order to explore the claim that republican theory can address contemporarypolitical problems in ways that are both useful and significantly different in practicefrom liberalism. The fifteen papers presented ranged in approach from conceptualanalysis to policy studies, and in context from Ireland to Central and Eastern Europe.The first session established the central concerns - freedom and the common good -and the contested nature of republicanism. Per Mouritsen outlined an historicallyinformed typology, demonstrating the variety of ways in which liberty and civicengagement can be interpreted and combined in the context of a broadly instrumentalapproach. Angel Rivero's paper offered a more sceptical approach to thecontemporary republican revival as exemplified in Agnes Heller's civic humanist,participatory politics, focusing on the implicit danger of majority tyranny in diversesocieties.While the precise connection between historical ideas and contemporary arguments isa matter of debate, historical analysis has played an important role in the republicanrevival. Four papers considered historical expressions of republican thought. DuncanKelly showed how republican thought persisted in nineteenth century Britain, ratherthan being submerged by liberalism or utilitarianism; while the principle of representation was embraced, the importance of civic character was a recurrent theme.Two of the historical papers examined the resources provided by French republicanpractice, often overlooked by normative political theorists. Jeremy Jennings traced thedevelopment of a more practical French republican ideology after 1848 and in the1870s, which emphasised education rather than economic equality, rights rather thanvirtue, solidarity rather than fraternity, and restraint on executive power rather thandirect popular sovereignty. Pierre Yves Baudot's paper critically explored the idea of aspecifically republican (and rational) form of public ceremonial, and the extent towhich this was exemplified in the funeral ceremonies for 'great men' from the ThirdRepublic onwards. Moving to another national context, Mark McNally identified theelements of a liberal republican theory in Sean O Faolain's critique of the programmefor a Catholic and Gaelicised communitarian republic in mid-twentieth centuryIreland.The nature and source of trust and solidarity inclining citizens to support the commongood emerged as an important theme. Francisco Herreros combined a game-theoreticapproach with insights from historical theorists to argue that the trust necessary forrepresentative politics is not a substitute for, but is strengthened by, information onthe character of politicians. Laura Andronache critically examined the accounts of solidarity found in Viroli, Pettit and Arendt, concluding that none of these fullysucceeds in describing a form of solidarity that is simultaneously thick enough tounite citizens effectively and thin enough to guarantee tolerance. Iseult Honohan'spaper on education for citizenship emphasised the distinction, often overlooked inpractice, between promoting civic solidarity through education in interdependenceand responsibility, and constructing cultural identity through common schooling andcurriculum.