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Is Tocqueville’s Theory of Religion and Democracy Applicable to New Democracies?

Is Tocqueville’s Theory of Religion and Democracy Applicable to New Democracies?

John Farina, “Is Tocqueville’s Theory of Religion and Democracy Applicable to New Democracies?,” Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 72, no. 1 (2016): 41–64, DOI 10.17990/RPF/2016_72_1_0041

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Is Tocqueville’s Theory of Religion and Democracy Applicable to New Democracies?

  • Type Journal Article
    Author John Farina
    Rights © 2016 Aletheia - Associação Científica e Cultural | © 2016 Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    Volume 72
    Issue 1
    Pages 41-64
    Publication Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    ISSN 0870-5283; 2183-461X
    Date 2016
    DOI 10.17990/RPF/2016_72_1_0041
    Language English
    Abstract Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic, Démocratie en Amérique, is often viewed as an endorsement of democracy as lived in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Over against that view are scholars who point to Tocqueville’s forebodings about the deleterious effects of democracy on the social fabric. In that latter reading, democracy destroys the bonds of community through its never-ending quest for freedom and equality. The result is a society of isolated individuals that become easy prey for tyrants. In this paper I shall argue that the negative reading of Tocqueville should be taken seriously, especially when applying his insights to the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. But to see only Tocqueville’s worries is to ignore his larger conclusion that the only forces that can effectively prevent the social demise of democracies are those institutions that promote salutary “habits of the heart,” chief among which is religion. I shall evaluate several of the salient claims about the role of religion in democratic societies and ask about their applicability specifically in those emerging democracies.
    Date Added 13/04/2016, 16:25:52
    Modified 13/04/2016, 16:33:50


    • Alexis de Tocqueville
    • democracy
    • philosophy of religion
    • Religion
    • religion and society
    • Social Philosophy


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