Liberalism and the Limits of Justice
Cover of the first edition
|Published||1982 (Cambridge University Press)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982; second edition 1998) is a book about political philosophy by Michael Sandel. The work helped start the liberalism-communitarianism debate that dominated Anglo-American political philosophy in the 1980s.
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. Sandel discusses and criticizes Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971), examining Rawls' claim for the primacy of justice. Partly inspired by Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), Sandel argues that Rawls bases his political philosophy on an untenable metaphysics of the self. In his view, Rawls' 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.
Philosopher Will Kymlicka wrote 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. Philosopher Jonathan Wolff wrote that Sandel provides 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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