The conservative challenge to liberalism

Abstract
This paper reconstructs the political?theoretical triangle between liberalism, communitarianism and conservatism. It shows how these three positions are related to each other and to what extent they are actually incompatible. The substantive outcome is the following thesis: the conservative position poses a challenge to liberalism that communitarianism is unable to offer and that liberalism cannot incorporate as it could with communitarianism. This challenge lies in the conservative?s ideal of a traditionally evolved, purposeless form of civil association, and its associated view on the justification of authority within such forms of association. This ideal cannot be incorporated into liberalism?s overall concern with individual autonomy, in contrast to the communitarian?s ideal of community. This will be shown through an investigation of two key elements of the conservative ideal of civil association: its ?purposelessness? and its justification of authority
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