Jean Bethke Elshtain


Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941–2013) was an American ethicist, political philosopher, and public intellectual. Her books included Sovereignty: God, State, Self (2008); Just War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (2003); Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy (2002); Who Are We? Critical Reflections and Hopeful Possibilities. Politics and Ethical Discourse (2000); New Wine in Old Bottles: International Politics and Ethical Discourse (1998); Real Politics: Political Theory and Everyday Life (1997); Augustine and the Limits of Politics (1996); Democracy on Trial (1993).

Democratic Authority at Century’s End

from Democracy, Volume 2, Number 1

The democratic story added the following to the idea of civic order: Through pledges and promises—a social contract or covenant—persons throw in their fortunes with one another. They seek not a perfect world, but a better one. And authority is necessary to its realization.