Autonomy, fraternity and legitimacy: foundations of a new communitarianism
Critch, Raymond Glenn
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In this thesis I explore the possibility for a renewed communitarianism. Rather than present this as a rival to liberalism, however, I present it as a supplement. I start from the viewpoint that there are two basic facts with normative consequences the reconciliation of which is the central task of moral and political philosophy. One fact is the fact of individuality, which I believe produces a normative requirement that all and only obligations that respect a certain kind of individual autonomy are legitimate. This fact is well explained by liberalism, and so I am to that extent a liberal. Where I differ from contemporary liberalism, and where I think there is room for a renewed communitarianism, is in explaining the limits of autonomy. There are, I contend, a wide array of basic and legitimate obligations that cannot be adequately explained (i.e. the legitimacy of which cannot be explained) by autonomy alone. The role for communitarianism, then, is to explain the nature of a second legitimating principle and how these two principles – respect for autonomy and respect for (what I call) fraternity – can work together to explain when various maxims and policies are legitimate or illegitimate. In the first part I explain the importance of communitarianism. In the second, I try and determine the nature of the principle that should be seen as representing the normative requirements of the fact of sociality: the second inescapable fact of moral and political philosophy, that while we are individuals we are never alone. I will ultimately argue for a version of solidarity based on the role ethical obligations play in incorporating the interests of others in one‟s own set of interests. In the final part I explain how the ethical obligation at the heart of solidarity should work and then how to reconcile the normative requirements of the fact of sociality with autonomy.