Community and Liberty: Alasdair MacIntyre, David Miller
THIS ARTICLE reconstructs two kinds of communitarianism, those of Alasdair MacIntyre and of David Miller.
For MacIntyre, modernity is an obsolete ethical and political project. Rights are an incoherent invention of modern ethics. His thomistic aristotelianism stands against contemporary ethics, which he understands as subjectivist. He understands that his concepts of a ‘practice’ and a ‘tradition’, as well as his virtue ethics, can be realized only in traditional religious communities. In those communities there is no need for rights or justice. For MacIntyre, liberty can be exercised only in traditional social roles.
David Miller argues for a ‘communitarian socialism’, a project which he sees that should be defending both liberty and equality. His critique is against the liberal conception of identity, which neglects the fact that individual identity can be formed only in a community. He argues that conceptions of the good in a community are a necessary precondition for individual conceptions of the good and of what a valuable life consists in. Miller gives priority to solidarity, social justice and common meanings in a community, and he understands those values as more important than conceptions of the good that each individual may have.
The article argues that MacIntyre’s communitarianism cannot provide a viable conception of liberty, because, for MacIntyre, rights, justice and liberty are not necessary for his traditional conception of life in a religious community. The article also argues that Miller’s ‘communitarian socialism’ may endanger individual liberty and freedom of speech. Although their communitarianism is different, MacIntyre and Miller both give priority to community values over individual liberty. Liberty, though, is a necessary precondition for contemporary multicultural societies.
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