By analysing Rousseau's conception of the general will, Zev Trachtenberg characterises the attitude of civic virtue Rousseau believes individuals must have to cooperate successfully in society. Rousseau holds that culture affects political life by either fostering or discouraging civic virtue. However, while the cultural institutions Rousseau endorses would motivate citizens to obey the law, they would not prepare citizens to help frame it. Rousseau's view of culture thus works against his account of legitimacy, and Trachtenberg concludes that Rousseau's political theory as a whole is inconsistent.

chapter 1|46 pages

An analysis of political failure

chapter 2|28 pages

The state of nature

chapter 3|40 pages

Society as it is—and as it could be

chapter 4|31 pages

Culture and political failure

chapter 5|36 pages

Culture and political success

chapter 6|36 pages

Culture and legitimacy