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Transitional Problems in Brudner's Inclusive Conception of Liberalism


John Charvet


London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government

January 22, 2009

LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 3/2009

Abstract:     
This paper criticizes Brudner's purported dialectical deduction and hence "justification" of a communitarian form of liberalism. Brudner's argument begins from an atomistic and libertarian conception of liberalism as the idea of individuals having independent worth as self-sufficient agents. It attempts to show that the contradictions in such a view require resolution, first, through a move to the notion of the equal worth of individuals as autonomous beings and, finally, through the contradictions within egalitarianism to the subsumption of liberty and equality in a liberal community. The point of the deduction is to show that the only conceptually stable and hence viable form of liberalism is communitarian. The paper argues that Brudner's starting-point in independent worth does not express a genuine independence. Equality and community are present implicitly within his initial formulation. Hence, there are no contradictions and no demonstration through their resolution that liberalism, however initially conceived, must end up as communitarian in form. This is not to say that a genuine initial independent individualism cannot be clearly formulated. However, such a position would not generate any supposed contradictions and could lead to a "justification" of a liberal community only on the basis of utilitarian and rational contractarian claims, more in the manner of Hobbes than Hegel.

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Date posted: January 29, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Charvet, John, Transitional Problems in Brudner's Inclusive Conception of Liberalism (January 22, 2009). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 3/2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1331373 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1331373

Contact Information

John Charvet (Contact Author)
London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government ( email )
Northampton NN7 1NE
United Kingdom
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