The University of Wisconsin Press

Politics / Philosophy


A Deeper Freedom
Liberal Democracy as an Everyday Morality
Charles W. Anderson

"An eloquent defense of liberal democracy, not so much as abstract philosophy but as a way of life."
—Jean Bethke Elshtain, University of Chicago, author of Democracy on Trial

Today those who believe in liberal democracy must reexamine and reaffirm their commitments. Here, Charles Anderson probes our urgent concerns and questions. Even those who believe that liberal democracy is the best form of government may think that liberal individualism leads to selfishness, permissiveness, and irresponsibility. Many would teach a cultural or religious counter-ethic to offset the excesses of freedom.

Grounding his view in classic philosophic and religious ideals, Anderson argues that a deeper vision of individuality and freedom can lead to both a sound public philosophy and a worthy personal ethic. In the same way that we as humans try to understand our place in nature and the cosmos, Anderson seeks to understand how we, as unique individuals, can understand our place among our fellow humans. Beginning with friendship and love, he extends his inquiry to the relationships of teaching, community, work, and democracy. Anderson shows how the natural desire of free people to find meaning in relationships with one another can lead to depth and fullness both in private and public life.

"Aristotle has taught us to distinguish between wisdom and cleverness, and Charles Anderson belongs to the small but essential party of the wise. Braving current fashion, he dares to argue for an intrinsic connection between public philosophy and the good life in a liberal democracy. One need not agree entirely with the substance of his conclusions to be challenged by the sweep of his inquiry and the seriousness of his moral purpose."—William Galston, University of Maryland, former counselor to President Bill Clinton and author of Liberal Purposes

Charles W. Anderson (1934-2013) was professor emeritus of political science and in the Integrated Liberal Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His many books include Prescribing the Life of the Mind,also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, Pragmatic Liberalism, and Statecraft.

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April 2002
LC: 2001005412 JC
184 pp. 6 x 9

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"In reading A Deeper Freedom I thought of sending it to my college-age son as a valuable, accessible, and mind-stretching guide for a young adult entering the world, searching for a personal philosophy to guide important choices."
—Thomas A. Spragens, Jr., Duke University, author of Civic Liberalism

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Updated June 21, 2013

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