The Rights-Bearing Citizen as a Problematic Actor of Liberal Politics

Abstract
By the late twentieth century, the liberal definition of a citizen as an individual with equal rights under the protection of the law has failed to respond to the demands of the members of contemporary plural societies. The recent discussions in political philosophy between Kantian liberal approaches and their communitarian and republican critics are relevant to this challenge. These criticisms are, in one way or another, related to the main principles of Western liberal thought. The communitarians take a stand against the priority of rights over conceptions of the good in liberal politics. They also criticize the ontological assumption of the individual as an "unencumbered" self. The absence of a substantive common good and the separation of politics and morality are the shortcomings of liberalism that are stressed by both communitarians and republicans. In contrast to liberals' emphasis on rights, republicans underline the role of duties and active participation as the constitutive elements of citizenship. In fact, they reverse the relation between rights and politics as it is understood in liberalism: they regard rights as the products of the political process, rather than its presuppositions
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