Philosophy and Civil Society

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Philosophy and Civil Society on the Web

          Below are links to a few Internet sites with content relevant to the topics addressed here. Needless to say, more will be added as I run across them.

Articles, Reviews, etc.

"The Strange Disappearance of Civic America"
        Article by Robert Putnam, published in The American Prospect (1995).
        Also, see "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital" (article by Putnam in Journal of Democracy, 1995). See also the first chapter from Putnam's book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (published June, 2000). See also the online discussion between Putnam and Nick Gillespie (week of June 12, 2000) on Slate.
See also "Kicking in Groups," a review of Putnam's "Bowling Alone" article, by Nicholas Lemann (published in The Atlantic Monthly (April, 1996). Also see the Web site for Putnam's The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America.

"Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism" and Replies
Article (with replies) by Martha Nussbaum, published in The Boston Review (1994).

"Liberalism Betrayed: The False Promise of Postmodernism"
Article by Joseph M. Knippenberg, Oglethorpe University, discussing the postmodernist readings of liberalism by Rorty and Bridges.

Civil Society and Democratic Citizenship
       Report from the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland (Summer, 1998); contains articles by (among others) Robert Wuthnow, Nancy Rosenblum, and Jean Cohen.

Final Report of the National Commission on Civic Renewal
       Report issued by a commission of 18 (co-chairs: William Bennet and Sam Nunn, executive director: William Galston) funded by Pew Charitable Trusts and addressing "concerns about America's civic condition."

Rebuilding Civil Society
Symposium from The New Democrat (March/April, 1995 -- a publication of the Democrat Leadership Council); contains papers by (among others) Will Marshall, Benjamin Barber, and Harry Boyte.

"Value Pluralism and Political Liberalism"
Article by William Galston defending the view that the primary commitment of liberalism should be to "the protection of diversity and not the promotion of autonomy." See also the response by Andrew Altman, "In Defense of Enlightenment Liberalism: A Reply to William Galston."In Defense of Enlightenment Liberalism: A Reply to William Galston."

The Tocqueville Files
Series of articles in The American Prospect addressing Putnam's thesis that there has been a pervasive decline in voluntary association and mutual trust among Americans; included are articles by (among others) William Galston, Theda Skocpol, Wendy Kaminer, Andrew Greeley, and Robert Putnam.

The Idea of a Civil Society
  Papers presented at a November, 1991 conference sponsored by the National Humanities Center (in North Carolina) on the present and future of the idea of a civil society; included are papers by Conor Cruise O'Brien, Eduardo Rabossi and Bronislaw Geremek.

ELDIS Links on Civil Society
  Resources focusing on civil society and development issues available on ELDIS (Electronic Development and Environment Information System -- a database and directory service based at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK).

"Philosophy and Civil Society: Its Nature, Its Past and Its Future"
  Essay by George McLean (Catholic University of America) surveying the history of the idea of civil society in (primarily) the Western philosophical tradition; published as first chapter in an anthology of essays entitled, Civil Society and Social Reconstruction (edited by McLean); soon the entire content of this volume will be available on the Web site of the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy.

"The False Dawn of Civil Society"
  Article by David Rieff arguing (roughly) that the idea of civil society is largely an ideological cover for advancing the agenda of global capitalism, published in the February 22, 1999 issue of The Nation.

"Perhaps We Bowl Alone, but Does It Really Matter?"
  Article on the Putnam/civil society debate, published in the July 16, 1999 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Contains a useful bibliography of recent books on the subject.

Think Again: Civil Society
       Article by Thomas Carothers (published in Foreign Policy, Winter, 1999-2000) that reviews and criticizes some of the more utopian claims made by civil society theorists and activists.

"The Paradox of Civil Society"
Article by Michael Foley and Bob Edwards, published in Journal of Democracy (1996)


Web Sites

          A website "published by CIVITAS, an international, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting civic education and civil society" and with the support of the U.S. Information Agency and the American Federation of Teachers, among other organizations. The site contains a journal, forums, educational materials and other resources.

Institute for the Study of Civic Values
        A non-profit institute established to promote civic ideals. Contains papers, texts, links, accounts of community projects, etc.

Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy
           Benjamin Barber's research institute at Rutgers University. "The Center is committed to combining empirical studies of democratic institutions and behavior with normative criticism. The aim: to anchor democratic theory in concrete findings and at the same time subject democratic practice to the scrutiny of theory." (NOTE: this Web site is part of the Civic Practices Network Web site.)

Center for Civic Education
The Center's mission is "to promote informed, responsible participation in civic life by citizens committed to values and principles fundamental to American constitutional democracy." Contains links, publications, curricular materials and other resources.

The Communitarian Network
The Communitarian Network is a coalition of individuals and organizations who have come together to shore up the moral, social, and political environment, believing that individual liberties depend upon the bolstering of the foundations of civil society, our families, schools, and neighborhoods.

Center for Civil Society International
CCSI is an information clearinghouse focused on publicizing creative collaborations between voluntary organizations in the the West and new third sector organizations emerging in the new independent states (NIS) that succeeded the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Electronic Policy Network (EPN)

EPN is project of The American Prospect magazine and offers content and links covering national policy and politics, including the civil society debate.

Civic Exchange: Strong Democracy in Cyberspace
Civic Exchange is an electronic democracy project directed by Benjamin Barber (Rutgers) and Beth Noveck  (Yale Law School) and aims to build a deliberative web site that will facilitate lively and self-governing political discourse on the Internet.

Other Resources

Episteme Links -- Best guide to Internet philosophy resources. Best guide to Internet philosophy resources.

Noesis: Philosophical Research Online -- Search engine specializing in philosophical essays, lectures, reviews and other resources available on the Web. -- Search engine specializing in philosophical essays, lectures, reviews and other resources available on the Web.

Philosophy Research Base -- Excellent research tool, with large collection of  links focusing mainly on Continental philosophy.

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Page last edited: 01/20/02

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