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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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Conference Proceeding

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Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent Law School




This symposium addresses legal and constitutional implications of the calls to revive or renew civil society (a realm between the individual and the state, including the family and religious, civic, and other voluntary associations). The erosion or disappearance of civil society is a common diagnosis of what underlies civic and moral decline in America, and its renewal features prominently as a cure for such decline. To date, there has been a great deal of discussion of civil society and proposals for its revival or renewal, but not enough discussion of legal and constitutional implications of such proposals. This symposium seeks to help fill this void. The articles pursue questions such as the following. What role do law and the Constitution play in the constitution of civil society? Does civil society serve as "seedbeds of virtue" - "our foundational sources of competence, character, and citizenship" - and foster self-government? Or is civil society's more vital purpose to serve as a buffer or check against the state? Should government attempt to secure congruence between democratic values and the structure and values of voluntary associations, or would such an effort offend commitments to pluralism and diversity? If it is not possible to establish a clear link between participation in associations, as such, and the inculcation of democratic values, are there some institutions of civil society that are especially valuable for cultivating civic virtue and fostering democratic deliberation?

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