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The concept of communitarianism is developed by presenting the key elements and key theoreticians. The elements are a hermeneutic methodology, criticism of individualism, a concept of the good, the idea of community, and civic virtues. Among the key theoreticians, Charles Taylor, Michael Sandel, and Alasdair MacIntyre respond critically to the liberalism in the theory of John Rawls, emphasizing that it cannot explain loyalties to communities and the motivation to act morally. Michael Walzer relates common values and a shared idea of the just to common opinions in different Spheres of Justice that is directed against Rawlsian liberalism. Philip Selznick and Amitai Etzioni overcome the liberal-communitarian debate in pointing out that the development of common values presupposes freely consenting individuals. Robert Bellah points out the importance of civic engagement and value orientation for a Good Society. Etzioni criticizes on the one hand the negligence of the social context of individual integrity in liberal theory. On the other hand, he insists on internal democracy in communities as a criterion for the evaluation of value systems in order to avoid relativism and oppressive values. The concluding prediction is drawn that communitarian ideas will play a stable role in the self-reflection of modernizing societies.




Reese-Schäfer, W. (2015). Communitarianism. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition (pp. 308–310). Elsevier Inc.

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