Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies?

Will Kymlicka

in Debating Democracy's Discontent

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780198294962
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598708 | DOI:
 Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies?

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Civic republicanism and procedural liberalism are–or should be–allies; exaggerating their differences is philosophically suspect and politically counterproductive. Liberals insist that whatever the object of public policy–whether it is legal rights, economic resources, political institutions, civic virtues, or communal identities–the aim of state policy should be to promote principles of right, not to promote particular conceptions of the good. However much Sandel describes republican freedom as an alternative to liberal justice, one may guess that he would not promote the former at the expense of the latter, and that he (tacitly) views principles of justice as setting constraints on the promotion of republican freedom. While right-wing liberalism has been influential, its influence has often been to rationalize nonliberal opposition to progressive policies, which it is able to do because it is right-wing (i.e. because it opposes redistribution), not because it is liberal (i.e. not because of its commitment to revisability and its rejection of perfectionism). If the traditional liberal commitment to national institutions as the site of collective self-government and distributive justice is no longer viable, then liberals will need to create new forums of self-government, new institutions of redistribution, and corresponding new forms of identity and virtues.

Keywords: constraints; good; identity; liberal; nonliberal; object; redistribution; right; right-wing; virtues

Chapter.  8772 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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