Essay about A Politics Of The Common Good

Essay about A Politics Of The Common Good

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Communitarians argue that a politics of the 'common good ' is needed to develop and maintain social unity. Liberals argue that a politics of the 'common good ' is incompatible with state neutrality and therefore fails to treat all citizens with equal respect and concern. In this essay I shall discuss and assess these arguments, focusing on aspects of each which I hold to be significant. Attention will be given to each theory 's notion of the self, which I see as key in the formation of each argument. In addition, I will note possible problems and challenges facing each position. Following this, the implications posed by each argument in terms of justice, will be considered. Ultimately, I will conclude that the communitarian argument faces too many challenges and should be rejected, whereas the liberal argument has merit and offers a better case in terms of justice.

The communitarian argument for a politics of the common good in order to develop and maintain social unity, is based upon the premise that the self is constituted by the community (Kymlicka 2002: 221-224). For communitarians, it is not individuals who examine and define their own ends, as such ends have already been developed by, and exist within, a given community. According to communitarians, individuals discover their self by deeply immersing themselves in the community 's way of life, internalising the community 's conceptions of good, and embracing social roles that have been pre-determined by culture or custom – the promotion of which is the duty of the communitarian state (Kymlicka 2002: 220-221). However, communitarians see their societies as vulnerable (Kymlicka 2002: 238), and that the vast array of ends in modern societies stand as a threat to the maintena...


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...viduals, and this leaves some members of the community vulnerable to discrimination and oppression, if they are unable or unwilling to embrace the community 's doctrine and conception of the good. For liberals, the individual comes first. However, this does not mean anything goes, as one does not have the right to conceive and act upon a notion of the good if it does not respect another 's capacity for self-determination. As expressed in this essay, both arguments face their own challenges, however, those facing communitarians leave their argument looking unattractive, and provide enough weight for its rejection. Conversely, although the liberal argument faces challenges, it is far more appealing, given its grounding premise which holds that people exist as ends, before the community. As such, it is far less likely to lead to arbitrary discrimination and oppression.

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