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A new ethical concept of democracy as the cultivation and practice of civic virtues in a pluralistic setting is presented in this thoughtful and wide-ranging study. Drawing upon such figures as Aristotle, Montesquieu, Hegel, Dewey, Heidegger, Arendt, and Lefort, Fred Dallmayr emphasizes the need for civic education and practical-ethical engagement in all societies aspiring to be democratic. With reference to Middle Eastern societies and especially Iran, Dallmayr explores the possible compatibility between democracy and Islamic faith. In a similar vein, he discusses the strengths of Gandhian and Confucian democracy as possible correctives to current versions of "minimalist" democracy and the cult of laissez-faire liberalism and neoliberalism. Addressing how to instill a democratic ethos in societies where corporations and elites exercise a great deal of power, The Promise of Democracy presents an inspired vision of democracy as popular "self-rule" in which ethical cultivation and self-transformation make possible a nondomineering kind of political agency. Against this background, Dallmayr casts democracy as a "promise,ö making room for the unlimited horizons opened up by a new understanding of liberty and equality. Book jacket.