The American Ideology: A Critique
Every school of thought in the social sciences appeals, in one way or another, to the idea of Reason. The American Ideology explicates and criticizes two notions of Reason in society: efficiency (as the term is used in economics and related policy discussions) and the concept of 'the reasonable' (employed in the strain of liberal political philosophy inaugurated by John Rawls). Despite their cogency and considerable appeal, these notions nowadays underwrite an orientation towards public policy and political life that is both inadequate and beneficial to elite interests; an orientation that constitutes a distinct 'American Ideology.' To make this case, Levine traces the history of the concept of efficiency, from Hobbes, through the utilitarian tradition, to contemporary economic and philosophical paradigms, and examines the strengths and weaknesses of the democratic theory implicit in John Rawls's pioneering work on justice and political legitimacy. The result is a critical, but sympathetic 'immanent critique' of the American Ideology, focused on the prospects for its reconstruction.
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