Liberalism and the Limits of Justice
Cover of the first edition
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982; second edition 1998) is a book about liberalism by the philosopher Michael Sandel. The work helped start the liberalism-communitarianism debate that dominated Anglo-American political philosophy in the 1980s.
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Sandel discusses liberalism, the work of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, and utilitarianism. He criticizes the philosopher John Rawls, evaluating his ideas as advanced in A Theory of Justice (1971), Political Liberalism (1993), and other works. He also criticizes the philosopher Robert Nozick, and his ideas as advanced in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974).
Sagoff endorsed Sandel's "criticism of contemporary utilitarian and Kantian conceptions of the good". He summarized Sandel as maintaining that liberalism "must offer a fuller, richer conception of the good if it is to account for the goals and values that individuals conceive of and pursue in community with others" and "that the self in community with others has an identity that reflects more than its own personal interests or desires", views he agreed with. He also agreed with Sandel's criticisms of Rawls's view of the origins of the principles of justice and of "the idea of a social contract dependent on possessive individualism." He compared Sandel's views to those of the philosophers F. H. Bradley, Thomas Hill Green, and Bernard Bosanquet, but believed that his work was open to criticism in that it did not advance sufficiently beyond them and left some questions unresolved.
Evaluations in books
The philosopher Richard Rorty described Liberalism and the Limits of Justice as "clear and forceful" in Reading Rorty (1990). He credited Sandel with providing "very elegant and cogent arguments against the attempt to use a certain conception of the self, a certain metaphysical view of what human beings are like, to legitimize liberal politics." The philosopher Jonathan Wolff wrote in Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State (1991) that Sandel provides the fullest development of the argument that Rawls bases his political philosophy on an untenable metaphysics of the self. The philosopher Will Kymlicka wrote in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (1995) that Liberalism and the Limits of Justice is Sandel's best-known book, and helped start the liberalism-communitarianism debate that dominated Anglo-American political philosophy in the 1980s.
- Kymlicka, Will; Honderich, Ted, Editor (1995). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866132-0.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Rorty, Richard; Malachowski, Alan, Editor (1990). Reading Rorty: Critical Responses to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (and Beyond). Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-16149-X.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Sandel, Michael (2006). Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56741-6.
- Wolff, Jonathan (1991). Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1856-3.