Communitarianism 'social constitution,' and autonomy

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2):121–135 (1999)
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Abstract

Communitarians like Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Michael Sandel, defend what we may call the ‘social constitution thesis.’ This is the view that participation in society makes us what we are. This claim, however, is ambiguous. In an attempt to shed some light on it and to better understand the impact its truth would have on our beliefs regarding autonomy, I offer four possible ways it could be understood and four corresponding senses of individual independence and autonomy. I also indicate what senses liberals can accept that we are socially constituted and in what sense I take communitarians to argue we are socially constituted.

Author's Profile

Andrew Jason Cohen
Georgia State University

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