Democratic Greatness? Tocqueville on American Ambition
An Alpheus T. Mason Lecture on Constitutional Law and Political Thought: The Quest for Freedom
Robert K. Faulkner, Professor, Department of Political Science, Boston College
Make America great again? But what is America’s greatness? The famous Alexis De Tocqueville explored the tensions among this dynamic country’s expanding ambitions and complicated creed of equal rights. Faulkner examines Tocqueville’s conclusions.
Robert Faulkner is Research Professor of Political Science at Boston College, where for many years he taught the history of political philosophy. He grew up outside of Rochester, New York, was educated at Dartmouth, Oxford, and Chicago, and taught for several years here at Princeton. Faulkner’s most recent book, The Case for Greatness: Honorable Ambition and Its Critics (2007), defends the classical philosophers’ admiration for outstanding virtue against doubters such as Hobbes, Kant, Nietzsche, and Rawls. Faulkner is author also of Francis Bacon and the Project of Progress (1993), Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England (1981), and The Jurisprudence of John Marshall (1968). His shorter writings address similar topics, not least Locke’s seminal liberalism. He has a co-edited John Marshall’s Life of George Washington (2000) and a prescient but much-ignored collection, America at Risk: Threats to Liberal Self-Government in an Age of Uncertainty (2009).
- The Witherspoon Institute