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Racial Communitarianism Essay Example | Topics and …

For this reason, and leaving aside the special problem for the communitarians, both sides currently find themselves in very much the same dilemma. They no longer have any supra-contextual criterion with which to distinguish justifiably between morally acceptable and morally objectionable concepts of the collective good. The reason for this is that they wish, in their employment of contextualistic arguments, to abstain from providing a universalist foundation for the principles of morality anchored in the constitutional principles of western democracy. Yet, both sides are at the same time all the more dependent on such a criterion because in the meantime they widely agree that without any link to value convictions there is an inability to clarify the conditions under which individual freedom is realized. Evidently, the only way out of this theoretical cul-de-sac in which the politico-philosophical debate presently threatens to get stuck is to adopt a formal model of ethical life. Such a model conceives of the universalistic principles of a postconventional morality as constituting the delimiting conditions of every community-based model of the good. For, in such a case, all those collective notions of the good life would be acceptable which are sufficiently reflexive and pluralistic as not to violate the principle of the individual autonomy of each and every subject. In my opinion, discourse ethics currently offers the most suitable point of departure with respect to providing the justifications for such a post-conventional principle of morality. It is, on the one hand, not affected by the anthropological criticisms which the communitarians justifiably raised with regard to Rawls’s original approach because the methods of justification using the rules of linguistic interaction departs from the premise of subjects who are both socialized and situated. Yet, on the other hand, given that it is concerned with justifying the principles for granting equal respect to the autonomy of every individual, its moral goal coincides with the approach Rawls takes to a theory of justice. Needless to say, the ethics of discourse must at the same time conceive of its principle of morality as a delimiting condition of a concept of the good which has still to be developed if it is to be able to fulfil the task of liberating both communitarianism and contemporary liberalism from their contextualist premises; that is, by offering them a normative concept of community. It can, however, only acquire such a formal model of ethical life if it takes on the great challenge of Hegel’s philosophy for a second time.

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We wonder how many educated Iraqis are left who have a historical awareness of the devastating new development of such an old obscure idea.

After the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Bush administration cancelled this initiative on the grounds that it was no longer necessary since Americans were supposed to have ‘rediscovered’ civic virtue. Several years later, however, the darker and more pessimistic ‘security first’ vision of the Bush administration had the effect of putting on hold any communitarian initiatives. The Bush administration is often criticized for having undermined international good-will after September 11th, but they did the same to civic virtue at home. Perhaps the Obama administration will help to revive civic virtue.

It would at first glance seem possible to reduce the point of contention in the debate between the liberals and the so-called “communitarians” to the question of the normative priority accorded either to the ideal of equal rights or to the vision of successful communities. The liberal position, indebted as it is to the tradition of contractarian theory, regards the expansion of legally-guaranteed liberties as the key point on which political ethics must focus, and this is a point, incidentally, which can only be justified in rational terms. By contrast, the communitarian position, which for its part is bound to the Classical Greek doctrine of the polis, or Hegel’s notion of ethical life, advocates that all successful forms of political coexistence depend on the presence of commonly-shared values. In other words, whereas for liberals the idea of maximum, equally-distributed rights serves as the overriding standard of political justice, the idea of socially-binding value orientations functions among the communitarians as the decisive normative criterion for judging societies. However if the difference is left in such simple terms, then the importance of the controversy may well be overlooked, especially in a philosophical sense and, moreover, in its significance for an interpretation of the current state of experience. For the core of the debate hinges on the question of how a political ethics must take account of the conditions of freedom for socialized subjects if it is to arrive at a convincing concept of a just society. It is upon this bone of contention between the liberals and the communitarians that I shall focus: an attempt will be made to trace the debate in terms of the sequence that would rationally emerge if the arguments exchanged thus far were reconstructed in terms of their rational content. In so doing, I shall defend the liberals’ position up to the point where, in my view, the communitarians have a better, albeit not yet very clear, argument. The ultimate goal of my reconstruction is to make a contribution to the question of which philosophical considerations can be adduced as the basis for an appropriate judgment of the trends toward individualization in our society mentioned at the outset.

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In order to present his reservations about the liberal model of society Taylor draws on the distinction developed by Isaiah Berlin between negative and positive conceptions of liberty. However he accords the two notions a somewhat different meaning than that given to them by Berlin in his famous essay. Taylor contends that the idea of negative liberty — a key achievement of the tradition of political liberalism — merely represents a concept of how individual liberty might be possible. It is limited because it only represents an answer to the question as to which social safeguards enable the individual subject to determine autonomously his individual life goals within the framework of the commonality. On his own account Taylor believes that the idea of positive liberty which emerged from the critique of liberalism holds the seeds of a model for the practical realization of individual freedom. For such an approach also endeavours to answer the question as to which social preconditions have to exist if the individual is in reality to be able to avail himself of his legally ordained right to self-realization:

The first part of our reconstruction has shown that John Rawls can justify the normative priority of justice over the good even after conceding at the ontological level that subjects have always already orientated themselves towards certain values which they share in common with others through interaction. For the principles of justice he develops are initially intended only for a negative purpose, namely to protect the individual within the community against social and economic sanctions which would constrain him when practically exploring his individual life goals. Of course, Rawls also has to concede at the same time that an acceptance of Sandel’s anthropological objection compels him to revise the justifications he had initially provided for his project. The fiction of a contract between individuals — whose purposive-rational calculation generates the hub of justification in Rawls’s theory — is no longer possible once human subjects cease to be conceived of as isolated and neutral beings, and are, by contrast, grasped as beings who have already become socialized and bear value orientations.

COMMUNITARIANISM IN AFRICAN THOUGHT. This essay explores representative Africanist thought on personhood and community, highlighting …
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Essay On Democracy In Urdu Language Free Essays

Ubuntu and communalism in African art
K.C. Anyanwu from Nigeria, whom I have already mentioned, writes in his article ‘The idea of art in African thought’ that the universe as a whole is ‘sound’. Like in the unfolding of ubu-by –ntu, the cosmic sound is taken over and differentiated on earth. The human beings participate in this process of continuing the cosmic sound on earth and of answering it by making it explicit. The most prominent answer to the music of the universe is dance. Dancing is participating in the vibration of all that is and giving expression to it in a common as well as in a personal manner. That is the realm for a comprehensive esthetical interpretation of the world in African thought. And the esthetical approach is closely related to ethics and to all forms of behaviour. A good action has to be a beautiful action as well, showing some elegance. The concept that connects aesthetics and ethics is that of harmony. Besides music and dancing, oral literature and story telling, wood-carving and other forms of sculpturing are important expressions of a thoroughly esthetical worldview (Anyanwu 1987).

Progressivism is the support for or advocacy of social reform

The problem this brings with it cannot, however, be answered without responding to the decisive question as to which level of aggregation of social integration is normatively desirable in community formation. There is, after all, a great deal of difference in the communitarian argument between speaking of value-related community formation solely with a view to the intermediate groups and associations involved or with regard to the interactive relationship between all citizens, in other words, Hegel’s notion of ethical life in the state. The first option amounts merely to a diluted form of communitarianism, for it simply asserts that membership of some form of “value community” is part and parcel of the conditions for realizing individual liberty. As Michael Walzer has shown, such a thesis can in principle be reconciled with liberalism since the state would have to transcend its ethical neutrality only in the narrow realm of active, legal promotion of group solidarity (family policy, educational and cultural policies for minorities, etc.). Things are different, however, if it is assumed that “ethical” community formation is necessary for the level of overall social integration. Such a position could be justified if, following Taylor, it was asserted that the formation of group solidarity within societies can also only succeed completely if it receives social backing in the shape of the active, value-related agreement of all citizens on the forms of solidarity. Such a proposition would first take us truly beyond the political-philosophical limits of liberalism.

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It need not presently concern us that MacIntyre develops his analysis of the narratability of human life with a view to rehabilitating the classical doctrine of virtue; that is, his attempt to derive the normative validity of certain character traits in the present from the demands which the “quest for the good” places upon behavioural features? All that is pertinent here is the fact that he arrives at the same conclusion as Charles Taylor, namely, that the self-realization of the individual subject is tied to a social precondition, more precisely, that the community is constituted by common value references. Both Taylor and MacIntyre believe that the context of a social community must necessarily figure among the preconditions for an authentic realization of freedom, that is, a social community whose inner commitment to certain values is shared by the subject. For in the absence of such an ethical consensus the individual would be deprived of the consent which he must be able to rely on when attempting to realize his life goals within society. This proposition marks the point in the debate at which a definite limitation of liberalism would appear to emerge. Given that the liberalist tradition insists that normative status may not be granted to any specific ethical value, it is not possible within the framework of such theories to develop the idea of a community that is integrated in terms of a notion of ethical life, even though, it is precisely this which we evidently have to presuppose when trying to explain the process of the individual realization of freedom. Liberalism is also forced to conceive of the process by which one puts one’s life goals into practice in terms of the very same pattern which it employed, initially with good reason, when conceiving of the creation of personal autonomy through a notion of rights — namely, the neutralization of overarching community ties.

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