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Document Details :
Subtitle: The Concept and the Connections
Author(s): CHAPLIN, Jonathan
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Date: July 1997
It has always been the fate of centrally important concepts in public debate to be used promiscuously. 'Democracy', for instance, has long been assigned multiple contested meanings; its meaning is univocal only in the minds of passionate advocates of a single political project seeking to monopolize the usage of the term, whether Liberals or Leninists. Theorists tend to worry about this conceptual promiscuity more than practitioners, who, firing off loaded concepts in the heat of the political battle, are impatient of reminders that, perhaps, this or that concept is not being consistently used as originally intended. 'No matter,' says the busy practicioner, 'it is doing the job I currently intend.' This reply is often justified: scholarly intrusions into public debate are sometimes appropriately dubbed 'academic' (which, in this context, in English, means 'irrelevant'). However, when rhetorical skirmishes cease and a concept gets to be embedded in public policy or legislation, clarity is indispensable.