Spitz Prize


Sharon, Civil Passions: Moral Sentiment and Democratic Deliberation
Princeton University Press, 2008

Selection Committee:
Joshua Foa Dienstag,Chair
Colin Bird
Bryan Garsten

From the committee's report:

Sharon Krause's Civil Passions: Moral Sentiment and Democratic Deliberation provides an ambitious and thoughtful account of the role that the sentiments should play in our efforts to deliberate impartially about moral and political matters. Engaging with a wide range of thinkers -- from the philosopher David Hume to recent political theorists and cognitive psychologists -- Krause shows that we must rely on our affective dispositions both to validate norms of justice and to motivate adherence to them. In so doing, her book gives a clear and original answer to those critics of liberalism who claim that its devotion to reason always ends in a deficit of inspiration. She argues forcefully that any genuinely impartial standpoint must incorporate the sentiments rather than leave them behind. "Our minds are changed," she writes, "when our hearts are engaged." Taking her basic intuition from Hume, she treats his writings with both interpretive charity and a critical eye, providing a model of how to draw from the history of political thought without oversimplifying either the past or the present. In giving the sentiments center stage without discarding the aspiration for critical normative judgment, her elegantly written book raises fresh questions about the relation between thinking and feeling in our political lives.

You may view a list of prizewinners and learn more about individual books through our Spitz Prize page.

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