Oakeshott on Rome and America by Gene Callahan

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The political systems of the Roman Republic were based almost entirely on tradition, "the way of the ancestors", rather than on a written constitution. While the founders of the American Republic looked to ancient Rome as a primary model for their enterprise, nevertheless, in line with the rationalist spirit of their age, the American founders attempted to create a rational set of rules that would guide the conduct of American politics, namely, the US Constitution. These two examples offer a striking case of the ideal types, famously delineated by Michael Oakeshott in "Rationalism in Politics" and elsewhere, between politics as a practice grounded in tradition and politics as a system based on principles flowing from abstract reasoning. This book explores how the histories of the two republics can help us to understand Oakeshott's claims about rational versus traditional politics. Through examining such issues we may come to understand better not only Oakeshott's critique of rationalism, but also modern constitutional theory, issues in the design of the European Union, and aspects of the revival of republicanism.

About Gene Callahan

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Gene Callahan holds a PhD in political theory from Cardiff University, and is a Fellow at the university’s Collingwood and British Idealism Centre. He teaches economics at SUNY Purchase is the author of Economics for Real People (Ludwig von Mises Institute)
Published July 18, 2012 by Imprint Academic. 250 pages
Genres: Law & Philosophy, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Oakeshott on Rome and America

The American Conservative

First, the academic conclusion would be that a new approach to American political history and political thought is necessary.

Mar 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Oakeshott on Rome and America

The American Conservative

On the contrary, the great achievement of Bernard Bailyn was to inspire a generation of students who have attempted precisely to “pay attention to what the participants [in American history] actually say, why they say it, and how far what they say differs from the actual political and social real...

Mar 05 2013 | Read Full Review of Oakeshott on Rome and America

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