When Passions Constitute Peace: Tocquevillian Equality as Political Ethics of Pacificism

Peter Roži č
Santa Clara University, USA

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Ingår i: Proceedings from The Ethics of War and Pease. 51st Annual Conference of the Societas Ethica, August 21-24, 2014, Maribor, Slovenia

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 117:2, s. 13-23

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Publicerad: 2015-09-09

ISBN: 978-91-7685-933-9

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


As political passions continue to fuel world conflicts, the conditions under which passions constitute peace become of scholarly and policy importance. Passions understood as socio-political guarantees of peace open a possibility of exploring the ethics of war and peace through the often ambiguous role of political passions. This essay discusses the possibility that the passion for equality represents a solid claim in the political ethics of pacificism through the analysis of egalitarian passions in Tocqueville’s Democracy. Tocquevillian democracy, best characterized by “equality of conditions,” rests primarily on passions. As a particular form of pacificism, such equality can create and sustain peace by shaping peace-loving citizens and regimes. In order to build upon potentially violent passions, a peaceful egalitarian system requires that passions be structured in a hierarchy that is established through equality as long as it maintains social ties without harming freedom. When seen as both passion and a form of existence – in other words as a ‘dialectic’ – democracy becomes the interpretive and ethical key for understanding the source of a political system’s strength, stability and peace. The analysis of Tocquevillian equality contributes to the development of the theory of pacificism as a nuanced and theoretically sound form of an ethics of peace.


Passions; Equality; Pacificism; Tocqueville; Peace; Political Ethics


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