Choice and Excellence: A Defense of Millian Individualism

Social Theory and Practice 31 (4):483-498 (2005)
Abstract
Communitarians have argued against Millian individualism (ethical liberalism) by claiming that it leads to the compartmentalization of life, and thus inhibits virtue, that it causes alienation, and leads to what I call the problem of choice. Ethical liberals celebrate the free choice of a conception of the good life, but communitarians respond by posing a dilemma. Either the choice is made in reference to some given standard (a social or natural telos), in which case it is not free, or it is made without reference to a standard, in which case it is arbitrary. This entails either ethical liberalism is false or it reduces to existentialism. I tackle each of these arguments in turn, showing that alienation is not any more of problem in liberal than in communitarian societies, and explain how virtues can fit between compartments in our lives. Regarding the problem of choice, I show that communitarians have assumed that justification must have a foundationalist structure. I show instead how a coherentist structure can allow for a person to begin with unchosen ends or with unchosen standards, but eventually arrive at a structure of ends (which constitute a vision of the good life) that is both freely chosen and rationally justified. This vindicates Millian individualism.
Keywords J.S. Mill  alienation  communitarianism  ethical liberalism  compartmentalization
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 10,316
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-05-28

Total downloads

60 ( #23,819 of 1,096,453 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #33,652 of 1,096,453 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.