New Communitarian Thinking: Persons, Virtues, Institutions, by Amitai Etzioni

By Amitai Etzioni

Communitarian notion is on the center of a fierce debate in political thought concerning the justice, efficacy, and way forward for liberalism and liberal societies. Amitai Etzioni has gathered a sterling checklist of individuals who convey communitarian considering to undergo on such well timed and contentious matters as abortion, homosexuality, unfastened speech, and private autonomy. those essays pass disciplinary strains and fasten the ivory tower to the realm past.

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Proponents of public community republican, participatory, and strong democracy theorists tend to have a "thick" view of citizenship; citizens are supposed to contribute to and find meaning within political institutions of which they play a part in shaping through their own involvement. Proponents of private community conservatives, religious thinkers, and liberal theorists argue for a "thin" view; they believe transcendent, traditional, or civil institutions are more important than public ones, and hence, that citizenship should be circumscribed so as to allow persons the opportunity to serve and be served by these private institutions.

As with other approaches, communitarian thought attracts scholars with a range of commitments from Christianity to egalitarianism; accordingly, the authors in this volume take disparate stances on such issues as human nature, the efficacy of state-sponsored attempts to inculcate virtue, and the value of religious faith. Page 2 Political Theory: The Communitarian Challenge The first section of this volume represents an effort to respond to the definitional questions that have plagued communitarian thinking from the start.

Coalitions such as these can generate "new standards of political rationality" as they did with civil rights and environmentalism that will provide new bases for the kind of ''public reason" Rawls takes as a prerequisite for decent, liberal societies. Reason, or more accurately the criterion of reasonableness, also figures heavily in Amy Gutmann's essay (chap. 9, "The Virtues of Democratic Self-Constraint"). Reasonableness is important insofar as democracies are deliberative, which she argues they should be.

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