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Friendship Reconsidered: What It Means and How It Matters to Politics

384 pages8 hours


Friendship is an enduring subject in political theory. Theorists have long searched for a way to bring conflicting groups closer together and advance an idea of pluralism that promotes greater social harmony. In Friendship Reconsidered, P. E. Digeser supports a more diverse, complicated idea of friendship. She sets forth a series of ideals that appreciates the phenomenon’s many forms and dynamic relationship to individuality, citizenship, political and legal institutions, and international relations.

Digeser argues that as a set of practices resembling one another, friendship calls our attention to the importance of norms of friendly action and the mutual recognition of motive. Attention to these attributes clarifies the place of self-interest and duty in friendship and points to its compatibility with the pursuit of individuality. She shows how friendship can provide islands of stability in a sea of citizen-strangers and, in a delegitimized political environment, a bridge between differences. She also explores the ways in which political and legal institutions can undermine and promote friendship. Digeser then looks to the positive potential of international friendships, in which states mutually strive to protect the just character of one another’s institutions and policies. Friendship’s repertoire of motives and manifestations complicates its relationship to politics, Digeser argues, and help us realize the limits and possibilities for generating new opportunities for cooperation.

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