It is quite common to make the argument that a stable liberal democracy requires high levels of compliance with the law. Scholars disagree, however, how such reliable and widespread compliance can be achieved. Roughly, liberals have traditionally emphasized the importance of arriving at compliance by way of autonomous and critical reasoning, whereas others (communitarians and republicans chiefly) argue that autonomous motives are notoriously weak and can, therefore, not by themselves bring about a high enough rate of compliance. The exclusionary importance accorded to autonomy by (many) liberals bars the state from cultivating the habits, sentiments and civic virtue upon which a polity’s stability depends. By contrast, many republicans follow Rousseau when he states that it is necessary for the law to reach the citizens’ hearts: “So long as the legislative force does not reach that deep, the laws will invariably be evaded” (Rousseau 1997: 179). We ought to, in other words, acknowledge the importance of nonautonomous motives for compliance stemming from character, sentiments, habits, beliefs and identities.
Boot, Eric R.
"Civics Beyond Critics: Character Education in a Liberal Democracy,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 6, Article 18.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol6/iss1/18