The Public Interest

Liberalism on the Couch

Andrew Stark

Fall 1986

ANGLO-AMERICAN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY is currently staging a debate between individualist liberalism and a new breed of communitarian critics. This debate implicates not only those who do political theory, that is, those who theorize about contemporary political problems, but also those who do research about the history of political thought. Recent attempts to locate a communitarian streak in the writings of the Founders and their interlocutors, or to discern a “civic republican” strand in the development of English liberal thought, are examples of this communitarian revival at the level of the history ideas. On the plane occupied by those who do political theory, the communitarians who are structuring the new critique of liberalism make two interconnected arguments, one metaphysical, the other political.

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