Liberalism after Communitarianism

In Gerard Delanty & Stephen Turner (eds.), Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory. Routledge (2021)
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The ‘liberal-communitarian’ debate arose within anglophone political philosophy during the 1980s. This essay opens with an account of the main outlines of the debate, showing how liberals and communitarians tended to confront each other with opposing interpretations of John Rawls’ Theory of Justice (1999; originally published in 1971) and Political Liberalism (2005; originally published in 1993). The essay then proceeds to discuss four forms of ‘liberalism after communitarianism’: Michael Freeden’s account of liberalism as an ideology; Joseph Raz and Will Kymlicka’s perfectionist liberalisms; the liberalism of value pluralists such as Isaiah Berlin and Bernard Williams; and Judith N. Shklar’s liberalism of fear. It concludes with the suggestion that there are times when liberals of every kind should set aside their ideology, even if only temporarily, in order to listen to their interlocutors with truly open minds.

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Charles Blattberg
Université de Montréal


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