Liberalism and Communitarianism Is anti-perfectionist liberalism ontologically committed to an untenable conception of the subject (person, self)? Can Right – principles of justice – be decided independently of the Good? Should the liberal state be neutral between “reasonable conceptions of the Good”? Can collective values/agency provide a basis for deliberating about the Good?
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)Theoretical Philosophy Explains how objective knowledge of a mind-independent worldis possible.Practical PhilosophyExplains how unconditional moral principles can be founded onpure reason.
Kantian BackgroundTheoretical Philosophy (Critique of Pure Reason) Founded on a the principle of a transcendental subject which organizesdiverse sensory representations into an ordered world of appearances(Transcendental Idealism). We can only have knowledge of the phenomena (things experiencedfrom the human standpoint) unified by the Transcendental Subject. About noumena (things as they are independently of the humanstandpoint), we can know nothing!
Kant’s Practical Philosophy Reason cannot tell what is conditionally good because this variesbetween persons and situations. It can, however, determine whatis unconditionally good.This is a good will: “a will which is good, not as a means to somefurther end, but in itself”.Persons are thus ends in themselves and should not be regardedmerely as means.
Kant’s Deontological Ethics We express personal autonomy by obeying the CategoricalImperative out of duty alone: ‘I ought never to act except in such away that can also will that my maxim should become a universallaw.Autonomy expresses my real (noumenal) self’s power to standapart from causes (instinct, desire, culture) which make me actheteronomously.
Kant/Rawls Analogies Like the CI, the principles derived from the OP are general and universal (apply to any and all parties). The OP “resembles the point of view of noumenal selves, of what it means to be a free and equal rational being” (Rawls 1999, 225). Like the CI, Justice (The Right) has priority over The Good because: Justice constrains permissible goods. Justice is determined independently of particular goods.
Sandel’s Critique of Rawls Rawls’ theory requires an Unencumbered Subject - a purely formal subject of possession (Strongly implied analogy with Kant’s transcendental subject). The US is too “thin” to support the moral powers and values espoused by Rawlsian liberalism (autonomy, self-knowledge, egalitarianism).
Rawls’ Political Liberalism Does Rawls’ Political Liberalism respond adequately to the communitarian critique?