Monday, May 26, 2008

Communitarianism vs. liberalism debate

Drawing on Aristotle and Hegel, Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor & Michael Walzer disputed Rawls' assumption that the principal task of government is to secure and distribute fairly the liberties and economic resources individuals need to lead freely chosen lives. Few accept the label "communitarian" w/o caveat.

Methodological claims about the importance of tradition and social context for moral and political reasoning

Liberal universalism vs. communitarian particularism.

Universalist presuppositions of Rawlsian liberalism, tempered in Political Liberalism & The Laws of the People.

Taylor and MacIntyre: moral & political judgement depend on the very interpretive dimension Rawls wants to abstract away from.

Walzer: such abstraction, even if metaphysically unproblematic, will fail to resonate in any thinking about actual distributions.

Recent East Asian "cosmopolitan-communitarian" arguments: cultural factors can affect the priority of rights; the justification of rights (cf. Walzer); & can provide foundations for distinctive political institutions & practices.

Taylor: overlapping consensus on human rights (agree on norms while disagreeing about why they are the right norms)

Debate over the self

Taylor and Sandel: Rawls' overly individualistic conception of the self. Self constituted in ties & commitments.

Unfair to accuse Rawls of endorsing atomism, though perhaps he does not give proper weight to constitutive non-chosen attachments etc.

Appearance of Heideggerean motifs. Background of everydayness.

"It is only when things break down from the normal, everyday, unchosen mode of existence that we think of ourselves as subjects dealing with an external world, having the experience of formulating various ways of executing our goals, choosing from among those ways, and accepting responsibility for the outcomes of our actions. In other words, traditional intentionality is introduced at the point that our ordinary way of coping with things is insufficient."

Cf. Habermas's lifeworld & (??).

Ought moral outlooks to be the product of individual choice?

Tacit social world orients individuals in moral space?

Conditions for autonomy rest on self-determination w/r/t what we value? Relationship b/w tacit "value" (?) & judgement disclosed in consciousness -- cf. ideology, false consciousness, critical theory, the human.

Autonomy = choice w/i unchosen framework.

Choice not intrinsically good? Deliberation not intrinsically good? Liberal answer (Dworkin?): principle of autonomy strengthens community; individuals following community-determined norms possess different moral & psychological content depending on whether they have the choice not to.

Constitutive attachments?

Policy-driven communitarian critique of de facto atomisation

"[...] political communitarians blame both the left and the right for our current malaise. The political left is chastised not just for supporting welfare rights economically unsustainable in an era of slow growth and aging populations, but also for shifting power away from local communities and democratic institutions and towards centralized bureaucratic structures better equipped to administer the fair and equal distribution of benefits, thus leading to a growing sense of powerlessness and alienation from the political process. Moreover, the modern welfare state with its universalizing logic of rights and entitlements has undermined family and social ties in civil society by rendering superfluous obligations to communities, by actively discouraging private efforts to help others (e.g., union rules and strict regulations in Sweden prevent parents from participating voluntarily in the governance of some day care centers to which they send their children), and even by providing incentives that discourage the formation of families (e.g., welfare payments are cut off in many American states if a recipient marries a working person) and encourage the break-up of families (e.g., no-fault divorce in the US is often financially rewarding for the non custodial parent, usually the father) [...]"

Habits of the heart. Communities of place. Communities of memory. Pyschological communities.

Et cetera.

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