Liberalism and the Limits of Justice
The 1998 Cambridge University Press edition
|Published||1982 (Cambridge University Press)|
Sandel criticizes the social democratic liberals John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, arguing that their views rest on anti-liberal collectivist foundations and are incompatible with the elements of liberal individualism they espouse. He offers a communitarian critique of liberalism, arguing that individuals are constituted by their communities and the obligations that follow from being part of them. Partly inspired by Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Sandel argues that Rawls bases his political philosophy on an untenable metaphysics of the self. In Sandel's view, Rawls's philosophy shares the metaphysical assumptions of Kantian ethics, in which a purely noumenal self that is detached from all empirical constraints somehow retains motives that enable it to make choices.
Sandel's best-known work, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice helped start the liberalism-communitarianism debate that dominated Anglo-American political philosophy in the 1980s. Sandel has been credited with providing the fullest development of the argument, which other writers have also made, that Rawls bases his political philosophy on an untenable metaphysics of the self.
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