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Unformatted text preview: 5 Gandhism (Dharma, Swaraj, Sarvodaya and Satyagraha) UNIT 24 INDIVIDUALISM AND COMMUNITARIANISM Structure 24.0 Objectives 24.1 Introduction 24.1.1 Individualist Versus Communitarian Position 24.1.2 Relevance in the Indian Context 24.2 Meaning and Development of Individualism 24.2.1 Atomism and Methodological Individualism 24.2.2 Views of Contractualists Including John Rawls 24.2.3 Views of Utilitarians 24.3 The Individualist Conception of the Self 24.4 The Individualist Theory of the Nature and Functions of the State 24.4.1 Functions of State and Government 24.5 Communitarianism: An Introduction 24.6 The Communitarian Critique of the Individualist Conception of the Self 24.6.1 Two Main Limitations of Individualism 24.7 The Communitarian Critique of the Idea of State Neutrality 24.8 Let Us Sum Up 24.9 Some Useful References 24.10 Answers to Check Your Progress Exercises 24.0 OBJECTIVES Our objective in this unit is to understand and assess one of the major ongoing debates in contemporary political theory; namely, the debate between liberal individualism and communitarianism. After studying this unit, you should be able to: • Understand the individualistic theory of the nature and functions of state; • Describe and assess the communitarian critique of liberal individualism; • Compare the major theoretical positions of individualism and communitarianism; and • Understand the relevance of this debate to contemporary political theory and practice. 24.1 INTRODUCTION In this unit, you will be introduced to one of the central debates in contemporary political theory, namely, the debate between liberal individualism and communitarianism. The debate between individualism and communitarianism developed and became central to political theory during the 1980s with the publication of Michael Sandel’s Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (1982). In this book, Sandel develops one of the most forceful critiques of Rawlsian liberalism, the statement of which is found in John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971). Since then, this debate has continued in one way or the other to inform a great deal of political theory. Infact, some of the major developments and concerns of contemporary political theory are based on arguments which emanate from this debate. 6 Political Ideologies At the center of the debate between individualism and communitarianism is the question: should the just state be constructed from the standpoint of how to foster the well being of individuals or from the standpoint of how to realise an ideal community? Is political reality shaped by decisions and actions of individuals, defined as persons standing at a distance (or separate) from community bonds or is it shaped by social beings whose identity and behaviour is defined by social groups/communities to which they belong? In other words, is the basic unit of political analysis the individual or the community?...
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2012 for the course IR 101 taught by Professor Harfancoofers during the Spring '12 term at Sunway University College.
- Spring '12
- The Land