Individualism, communitarianism and consensus

The Journal of Ethics 5 (2):105-120 (2001)
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There is a contemporary conflict between individualistic andcommunitarian conceptions of rationality. Robert Goodin describes it asa conflict between an enlightenment individualistic conception of a``sovereign artificer'''' and ``a socially unencumbered self'''' ascontrasted with the communitarian conception of a ``socially embeddedself'''' whose identity is formed by his or her community. Should wejustify and explain rationality individualistically or socially? This isa false dilemma when consensus is reached by a model articulated byKeith Lehrer and Carl Wagner. According to this model, the consensusresults from the positive weights individuals give to others and use tocontinually average and, thus, aggregate their allocations. Aggregationconverges toward a consensus in which the social preference and theindividual preferences become identical. The truth of communitarianismis to be found in the aggregate and the truth of individualism in theaggregation. The original conflict dissolves in rational consensus.



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Keith Lehrer
University of Arizona

References found in this work

Communitarian critics of liberalism.Amy Gutmann - 2003 - In Derek Matravers & Jonathan E. Pike (eds.), Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Routledge, in Association with the Open University. pp. 308 - 322.

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