For the founders, the social compact is based on equal consent on both sides. Existing citizens should consent to new citizens, just as new citizens should consent before being admitted to citizenship.
The parochialism implied by the title of West’s book and reflected in much of its content contrasts with the universality of the founders’ rhetoric and with the timelessly applicable ideas of natural rights and the natural law.
The great contribution of West’s book is to bolster the argument that the founders are a formidable group, not only in their political prudence but also in their claim to genuine moral and political wisdom.
Adam Seagrave’s review of my Political Theory of the American Founding contains both praise and criticism. I will respond here to four of his most important concerns.
A Political Theory Review interview with Jennifer Pitts about her recent book, Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire
While the war in Europe played a significant role in the parties’ nominations for the presidential election of 1940, it had a relatively small part, and less than is usually understood, in voting.
A Political Theory Review interview with Alan Patten about his recent book, Equal Recognition: the Moral Foundations of Minority Rights
A Political Theory Review interview with William Curtis about his new book, Defending Rorty: Pragmatism and Liberal Virtue
What should we expect of a separation-of-powers regime interlaced with tough checks and balances? What should we expect of a legislature representing a heterogeneous public that seems to be growing more heterogeneous, not to mention more fractious, all the time? To think about these matters, it may pay to reach for historical perspective. ...
Starting with the Curtiss-Wright decision in 1936 and carrying forward to Zivotofsky v. Kerry in 2015, the Supreme Court has resorted to erroneous dicta and deference to promote independent executive power in external affairs. These judicial misconstructions have done severe damage to basic constitutional principles, including checks and balances and self-government.