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Among the more distinctive features of the republican tradition is the importance it accords to civic virtue. This paper explores the views of Algernon Sidney, one of the first of the English republicans to write about civic virtue in detail. His relatively neglected arguments are worth examining both because they are more interesting and novel than often believed, and also because examining them will shed much-needed light on important aspects of republican theory generally. As this paper shows, the republican concern with civic virtue is one aspect of a broader effort to show how well-ordered republics might internally generate their own long-run support, and thus achieve stability in the sense described by John Rawls. Thus, in correcting a common misimpression regarding Sidney’s ideas, this paper enhances our appreciation of the republican politics of virtue in general.

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