In this dissertation I seek to answer the question, “What are the virtues of the excellent citizen in a liberal democracy?” This question is important on three levels. First, if civic virtue is as important to the perpetuation of liberal democratic community as neo-liberal and communitarian thinkers have argued, then curiosity alone should motivate us. Second, if projects to foster the virtues are critical, then we must understand the virtues in order to foster them effectively and appropriately. Third, those who wish to attain greater excellence in citizenship need to know what the virtues are so that they may pursue them.
In Chapters One and Two, I argue that current accounts of civic virtue are deficient because they fail to explore its basis, nature, and constituents. To better understand civic virtue, we must explore specific citizen virtues. To fulfill this aim, we require a citizen virtue catalog structured by an explanatory framework that is anchored in the role-based nature of citizen virtue. Such a framework provides the rationale for determining which virtues should be included in the catalog and which should not as well as a basis for comparing competing catalogs. As the role of citizen is to assist his state, the citizen virtues are those qualities that enable the citizen to assist the state in achieving its aims—in protecting, promoting, and realizing the liberal democratic ideals (namely, freedom, equality, self-government, collective cooperation, and stability).
In the remaining chapters, I survey neo-liberal accounts of citizen virtue proposed by Richard Dagger, William Galston, David Jones, Mark Kingwell, Stephen Macedo, and Thomas Spragens, Jr. I apply the Chapter Two framework to assess the virtue candidates they propose. These chapters share a common format but differ in focus. Chapter Three takes up the citizen virtues that treat political community: cooperation, participation, vigilance, deliberative excellence, and obedience to law. Chapter Four, the liberal citizen virtues: allegiance to liberal democratic community, tolerance, and respect for rights. And Chapter Five, the citizen virtues relating to self-governance: autonomy, responsibility, and restraint. Chapter Six concludes.