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Unformatted text preview: c University of America, THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Spring 1998, p. 519-35 The communitarian wish for a personal justice, which takes account of both the intrinsic moral worth and substantive outcomes of particular actions, is irreconcilable with the maintenance of the complex spontaneous order that constitutes an advanced liberal society. A legal framework consisting of particular laws for particular persons or groups, by which legislators seek to bring about specific outcomes, is the very antithesis of the rule of law--the foundation and core value of the liberal order. And the communitarian polemic is characterized by a curious and disturbing inattention to the concrete institutional manifestations a renewed "communal" spirit might assume and to the consequences that would flow from the abandonment of the abstract liberal legal framework. More particularly, the communitarians seem completely oblivious to what Hayek has called the "role of law in an ordering mechanism," which I have attempted to describe; they do not seem to recognize that the sort of personal and outcome-based justice they crave would undermine the legal foundation of liberal society. COMMUNITARIANISM IGNORES NECESSARY INDIVIDUALISM Tibor R. Machan, Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, RES PUBLICA, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1995, p. 3. Should we embrace a new version of collectivism, for example, communitarianism, in order to recover us from the consequences of subjectivism? I don't believe that is necessary. Individualism has not had a full hearing. There are forms of it distinct from the version the classical liberal tradition inherited. The type of individualism I have in mind focuses on individual human beings. This humanist, ethical or classical individualism recognizes that there is in nature a class of human individuals. And their human nature has a lot to teach us about social life and personal ethics. It seems there are indeed good reasons to classify hum an beings as a distinct class of entities in nature. There is, however, also good reason to regard thei...
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