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Title The Concept of Instability and the Theory of Democracy in the Federalist
Publication Date
Date Accessioned
University/Publisher Duke University
Abstract This dissertation describes instability as a problem with a variety of sources and explains Publius' contribution to understanding the importance of these problems for politics and political theory. Using the Federalist and Publius' reading in political theory, history, and politics to ground my analysis, I explain the concept of instability as a multi-faceted problem that requires different solutions. I show that instability arises from one or a combination of four distinct notions: stasis or factional conflict, corruption, the mutability of the laws, and changing global conditions. My dissertation suggests that one of the primary goals of ancient and modern democracies was to solve the political challenges posed by instability. I further argue that the sources of instability remain relevant because they allow us to describe the problem of instability in a way that is theoretically and practically useful for understanding the role that democracy plays in addressing them. Finally, I suggest that describing and addressing the patterns of instability were central to Publius' interpretation of history and political theory and that recognizing and tackling these patterns are a part of the scope of modern political science and are central to the study of democratic politics.
Subjects/Keywords Political Science, General; democracy; instability; Publius; the Federalist; ancient politics
Contributors Grant, Ruth (advisor)
Language en
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:10161/629
Repository duke
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2019-10-31
Issued Date 2008-04-18 00:00:00

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Federalist 15, p. 93. Federalist 20, p. 129. 46 See Madison’s letter to George Washington dated April 16, 1787 in the Papers of James Madison. 45 23 sovereignty would imply an intire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them…

…given to the world by its benefactors.”1 According to Publius’ interpretation of history and experience, the concern expressed in the opening lines of the Federalist suggested that the democracies of the past could not protect themselves against the

…According to Publius’ pronouncement in Federalist 1, “It has been frequently 1 See Madison’s article on “The Government of the United States” in the National Gazette, February 6, 1792. 3 remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this…

…would provide an alternative to monarchical government, the dominant political system of the European world at that time. According to the Federalist, despite a long history of political instability that Publius saw as endemic to democracies, the

…understanding the importance of these problems for politics and political theory. I employ the political and historical lessons, which were the basis for Publius’ understanding of democracy, to describe the concept of instability. Using the Federalist and…

…narratives, stasis emerges when individuals form factions that are uncooperative and typically violent in ways that threaten political stability. I suggest that there is a connection between Publius’ definition of faction in Federalist 10 and the description…

The Federalist suggests that faction was a greater concern under popular government because majority politics becomes a tool of factional conflict. The problem of faction was arguably the most significant impediment to the establishment of the new…

…regime for Publius. Wood articulates 2 See Federalist 10. See Wood 554. 4 See Wood 95. 3 6 Publius’ view of faction in the following manner: “In the minds of the Federalists the measure of a free government had become its ability to control factions…