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Debating Democracy's DiscontentEssays on American Politics, Law, and Public Philosophy$
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Anita L. Allen and Milton C. Regan

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198294962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198294964.001.0001

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Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies?

Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies?

Chapter:
(p.131) 10 Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies?
Source:
Debating Democracy's Discontent
Author(s):

Will Kymlicka (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198294964.003.0011

Civic republicanism and procedural liberalism are–or should be–allies; exaggerating their differences is philosophically suspect and politically counterproductive. Liberals insist that whatever the object of public policy–whether it is legal rights, economic resources, political institutions, civic virtues, or communal identities–the aim of state policy should be to promote principles of right, not to promote particular conceptions of the good. However much Sandel describes republican freedom as an alternative to liberal justice, one may guess that he would not promote the former at the expense of the latter, and that he (tacitly) views principles of justice as setting constraints on the promotion of republican freedom. While right-wing liberalism has been influential, its influence has often been to rationalize nonliberal opposition to progressive policies, which it is able to do because it is right-wing (i.e. because it opposes redistribution), not because it is liberal (i.e. not because of its commitment to revisability and its rejection of perfectionism). If the traditional liberal commitment to national institutions as the site of collective self-government and distributive justice is no longer viable, then liberals will need to create new forums of self-government, new institutions of redistribution, and corresponding new forms of identity and virtues.

Keywords:   constraints, good, identity, liberal, nonliberal, object, redistribution, right, right-wing, virtues

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