Liberal Individualism, Autonomy, and the Great Divide

Liberal individualism, in its atomic sense, asserts that people are autonomous and self-contained individuals, whose rights are prior to and independent of any conception of the good. It champions individual rights and toleration for different conceptions of the good life, and essays to secure justice for all in equal measure.In prioritizing right over good, liberal individualism demands that the state have a stance of strict neutrality concerning any particular conception of the good. It privileges political analysis, in that no conception of what is good must interfere with the fundamental rights, unconditionally guaranteed, of each individual. Consequently, it is essentially atomic ideal, and this atomism, whether metaphysical ormethodological, effects a separation of persons and institutions. This I call the “Great Divide”.In what follows, I argue that the liberal separation of persons from institutions is a disintegrative political and ethical ideal in personal, social, and ethical senses
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DOI 10.5840/pcw20061313
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