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Professions are institutions that, through their small size, self-governing elements, and sense of social mission, can assist in maintaining a sound civic culture. As mediating institutions in our democratic society that are neither entirely birthed by the state nor entirely private, individual professions arguably present practical avenues through which to teach civic behavior and restore Americans’ broken trust.
This volume on the professions and civic life undertakes a unique and timely examination of 12 individual professions to see how each affects the character of American citizenship and the civic culture of the nation through their practices and ethos. What is distinctive — or not — about the specific profession as it came to be practiced in the United States? Given the specialized knowledge, training, and sometimes licensing of a profession, what do the professions perceive to be their role in promoting the larger common good? How can we bring professionals’ expert knowledge to bear on social problems in an open and deliberative way? Is the ethic of a particular profession as it understands itself today at odds with the American conception of self-government and a healthy civic life?
Through analysis of these questions, the chapters present a rich treatment of how the 12 long-standing professions of political science, teaching, the law, the military, economics, medicine, journalism, literature, science, architecture, music, and history help support and challenge the general public’s civic behavior in general and their attachment to the American regime in particular.
Praise for “The Professions and Civic Life”
“This volume demonstrates how members of especially significant professions have contributed to our civic decline, but can also lead the needed renewal. Not every reader will agree with these authors’ diagnoses, nor their proffered cures, but that very debate would be a healthy reminder of our mutual civic obligations. Anyone who cares about America’s national civic health — and that should be everyone — ought to read this book.”
—David E. Campbell, University of Notre Dame
“Since professionals are among the most powerful citizens, strengthening citizenship requires rethinking the professions. The lucid, thoughtfully argumentative, intellectually diverse essays in this volume span an extraordinary range of professions and should provoke them all to reconsider their purposes and values.”
—Peter Levine, Tufts University
Gary J. Schmitt and Rebecca Burgess
The Role of Political Science and Political Scientists in Civic Education
James W. Ceaser
Educating for Liberty? The Shortcomings of Contemporary Civic Education Theories
Tocqueville’s “Most Powerful Barrier”: Lawyers in Civic Society
Adam J. White
America’s Military Profession: Creating Hectors, not Achilles
Economists and Res Publica: The Virtues and Limits of Economic Analysis
Steven E. Rhoads
Physician, Heal Thyself: Doctors in a Pluralist Democracy
Daniel P. Sulmasy
Journalism and Citizenship
The Literary Profession and Civic Culture
Paul A. Cantor
The Practice of Science in a Democratic Society
Austin L. Hughes
Architects and Citizenship
Michael J. Lewis
Music and Civic Life in America
David Tucker and Nathan Tucker
History in the Age of Fracture
Wilfred M. McClay
Gary J. Schmitt is the director of AEI’s Program on American Citizenship.
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