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Liberals and Communitarians Paperback – May 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0631198192 ISBN-10: 0631198199 Edition: 2nd

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Liberals and Communitarians + Communitarianism and Its Critics + Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631198199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631198192
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An admirably clear exposition of the main protagonists in the liberalism-communitarianism debate. Mulhall and Swift provide a valuable service by identifying the various issues in the debate, and by separating out the substance from the rhetoric on both sides" Will Kymlicka, author of Liberalism, Community and Culture

"Their approach is author-based and aimed at the new student. It is clearly written, accessible, and can be recommended with confidence to new students." Political Studies

"An excellent supplementary text for upper-level undergraduate contemporary political philosophy classes." American Library Association --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

In this revised and expanded edition of their established text, Stephen Mulhall and Adam Swift provide an up-to-date overview of the issues and new developments in the debate. Beginning with an account of John Rawls's A Theory of Justice, the book goes on to provide clear presentation of the work of the main communitarians - Michael Sandel, Alisdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor and Michael Walzer. This is followed by a substantially rewritten and expanded assessment of Rawls's more recent work, as that is presented in his new book, Political Liberalism. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which his position enables him to respond to the communitarian critique. The final part of the book examines the writings of three other liberal theorists whose work bears on these issues; the work of Ronald Dworkin is included here for the first time, together with that of Richard Rorty and Joseph Raz. This provides a framework for investigating the different ways in which liberal political thought can claim to be neutral between conceptions of the good.

Clear and accessible in style, with a guiding agenda of themes and issues, this new edition will continue to provide an indispensable aid to students of contemporary political theory.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a scholarly examination of the communitarian challenge to liberal political philosophy. The authors start with John Rawls' positions in A Theory of Justice as a canonical starting point. They sketch out a number of themes; the conception of the person, asocial individualism, universalism, subjectivism or objectivism, and anti-perfectionism vs neutrality that they judge recur in the communitarian critiques. This section is followed by discussions of four strains of communitarian thought - Michael Sandel, Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Michael Walzer. These sections are quite well done; good summaries of the works of these individuals with discussions of how their work (explicitly in the case of Sandel and Walzer, implicitly in the case of MacIntyre and Taylor) stands as a critique of Rawls and contemporary strains of liberalism. There is a detailed analysis of Rawls' Political Liberalism, construed here as partly a response to the communitarian critique, again using the identified themes. The authors conclude with 3 chapters looking at alternative liberal political visions, those of Richard Rorty, Ronald Dworkin, and Jonathan Raz.

The strengths of the book are the careful analysis and what seems to be fair analysis of all the figures treated in the book. The authors try hard to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of all arguments. They generally feel that liberal political thinkers, particularly Rawls, do well in meeting most of the communitarian critique though they feel that state neutrality is a chink in the liberal theorists' armor.

There are some defects. The principal one is what might be called the Rawlsian writing style. In an effort to be very specific and careful in their analysis, the authors have produce a lot of fairly labored prose.
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