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Generating Freedom: Hegel's conception of political order

In the light of the fragility of current liberal democracies, this dissertation aims to contribute to rethinking political order by reconstructing Hegel’s account in the Philosophy of Right.

Sebastiaan Tijsterman
18 April 2024
Leiden University Scholarly Publications

His theory of political order has relevance as it explores how modern freedom, i.e. liberal rights and a market, can coexist with republican self-government. The reconstruction shows how a liberal order, i.e. based on the principle of individual autonomy and an instrumental account of government, must entail a loss of freedom and social and political pathologies: citizens for instance cannot acquire stable identities in the social whole and alienate themselves from the political realm. Moreover, it works out Hegel’s alternative account of political order in which freedom depends on the interplay of the opposed dynamics of the state and society: the state institutions pursuing the good of the community as a whole, while the members of civil society pursue their own good. Finally, the dissertation shows how Hegel offers a coherent and subtle account of republican citizenship and self-government, in which self-government does not depend primarily on the influence citizens exercise on political outcomes but on their ability to identify with the good of the community as a whole.

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