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Oakeshott on Rome and America

Callahan, Eugene 2010. Oakeshott on Rome and America. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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The political system 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 U.S. 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. Given that, I have explored how the histories of the two republics can help us to understand Oakeshott's claims about rational versus traditional politics, and, in particular, what the examples say about what Max Weber referred to as the 'causal adequacy' of these types. What factors led the American founders to partially reject and attempt to improve upon the Roman way To what extent did the Roman lack of a written constitution contribute to the downfall of their republic Why didn't the American reliance on written rules prevent the American state taking on a form quite different from that envisioned by the founders 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.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
ISBN: 9781303196133
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2018 22:40

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