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  1. #1
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Default Communitarianism

    This is Part 1 of a two part thread based on what this dude says the modern idea of self is.

    I just recently began to look at communitarianism so I'm not sure what it's about. I'm curious to hear people's opinions.

    Communitarianism emerged in the 1980s as a response to the limits of liberal theory and practice. Its dominant themes are that individual rights need to be balanced with social responsibilities, and that autonomous selves do not exist in isolation, but are shaped by the values and culture of communities. Unless we begin to redress the balance toward the pole of community, communitarians believe, our society will continue to become normless, self-centered, and driven by special interests and power seeking.

    Communitarians argue that the one-sided emphasis on rights in liberalism is related to its conception of the individual as a "disembodied self," uprooted from cultural meanings, community attachments, and the life stories that constitute the full identities of real human beings. Dominant liberal theories of justice, as well as much of economic and political theory, presume such a self. And our "habits of the heart" deeply draw upon this, even in many cases where we behave as committed community activists.
    Source
    Communitarianism springs from the recognition that the human being is by nature a social animal as well as an individual with a desire for autonomy. Communitarians recognize that a healthy society must have a correct balance between individual autonomy and social cohesion. Much recent thinking has focused on an assumed conflict between the rights of the individual and the responsibilities of the government. When you put "community" back into the equation, you find that the apparent conflict between the individual and the government can be resolved by public policies that are consistent with core American values and work to the benefit of all members of our society.Source
    Communitarianism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    What do people think? What's right about this philosophy? What's wrong about it?

    The major criticism I've found is that it "mischaracterizes liberalism, attributing to it rigid theoretical dichotomies and implausible assumptions about moral psychology and social life to which liberals were not committed either by intent or by implication; and second, that many of the practical reforms that communitarians endorsed were viable and indeed desirable within a liberal framework."

    And to provide balance, here is the the Anti Communitarian Manifesto.

  2. #2
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Its fascism by another name, but with the same good intentions.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  3. #3
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    Its fascism by another name, but with the same good intentions.
    Dayam. All I know is that when I want to insult someone I call them a fascist.

  4. #4
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    It sounds as if this person wants to pressure people into according with what their ideas of community and values are.

    I disagree with much of this. I think the only way you can meaningfully be part of a community is if you have the freedom to choose not to be. If you don't have a choice, it means nothing, the community is just a forced construct. If you choose to donate your time and energy into a community, then it means a lot. If you choose to accept a particular position and be a part of a particular group of people by claiming that you identify with them, that means something. If you just have to be part of that group because you're expected to be, and you don't have much say or awareness of options, then that doesn't mean anything.

    Connection loses meaning when it is forced. Being able to choose your friends and the people you identify with is an integral part of human identity. The people you're forced to be around, and the values they try to impart can shape you, but that isn't what really defines you as a person.

    Does that make sense?

  5. #5
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    Dayam. All I know is that when I want to insult someone I call them a fascist.
    That's because the word 'fascist' is commonly employed to describe someone who is intolerant of others, in particular someone who is intolerant of people because they are of another race, nationality, religion, sex, etc. It is true that fascist regimes, such as that in Germany under the nazis, often practice some such intolerance, but it is not the defining characteristic of fascism. In fact, if you were to substract from nazi doctrine the rampant racism, and anti-semitism in particular, then nazism would likely qualify as a form of communitarianism. It is worth noting that the term 'nazi' was not common among nazis, but instead they would have described themselves as national socialists.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  6. #6
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    Does that make sense?
    If I were to stub my toe on the doorstep tomorrow then I would not hold that doorstep morally responsible for my pain, and nor would I hold it responsible for my good fortune if in my moment of pain I were to spot $100 which I would otherwise have not noticed. The doorstep is not a decision-making agent, and no punishment nor reward could have any consequence on its future behaviour. The doorstep will not move aside to prevent me stubbing my toe in the future, and nor will it leap into my path to draw my attention toward some item of worth.

    An entity, such as the state, which forces someone to "do good", denies that same someone the opportunity to be a decision-maker and also denies to them, as the laws of the universe deny my doorstep, any responsibility for their behaviour. It is only for our status as decision-makers that we are regarded as responsible for our behaviour, whether our behaviour is right or wrong. Therefore, by substituting the decisions of many individuals for the decisions of a few powerful elites, those individuals are denied their opportunity for moral action.

    If it were possible to compel each and every individual to do the right thing, so that noone could be regarded as a decision-maker, then nobody would ever have the opportunity for moral action. The daily interactions of individuals would be like a well-greased machine, flawless, but heartless. Unfortunately, many seem to promote ideas and policies which deny others the opportunity for moral action, seduced by soothing words like 'community', 'cohesion', and 'nature', and disgusted with selfishness and the loss of the tribal society.

    Despite communitarian's dislike of power-seeking, that is exactly what they seek over others, because 'promoting cohesion' are just soothing words to describe what constitutes the overriding of other peoples decisions by those in power.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    Its fascism by another name, but with the same good intentions.
    Yes, I agree with this. A trojan horse of fascism.

  8. #8
    Senior Member htb's Avatar
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    What Lee is saying, Athenian, is that D.A.R.E is a well-meaning waste of money.

    The simplest way to devalue virtue, by legalism, is to comprehensively mandate it.

    On the other hand, assuming that individuals will accommodate one another through spontaneous conceptions of right and wrong invests too much in mechanism -- or statistics, depending on how you look at it. James Fitzjames Stephen said, "men are so closely connected together that it is quite impossible to say how far the influence of acts apparently of the most personal character may extend," and he was right. Morality must be substantiated externally, therefore it must be shared. And to be at all meaningful it must be enforced: not statutorily, by government; but socially, by community. There is some distance between diktat, and mores, and once more anarchy.

  9. #9
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    I liked the philosophy and I'm just about the farthest thing from a fascist. In fact it sounds like a balance of socialism and liberalism to me. Am I missing something?

    Edit: In fact, reading nocturne's post just makes me think he is a hardcore liberal. The community is essential to the development of each individual. I don't know where the state even comes into play. It's only one aspect of a community.

    It doesn't hurt anything to compel people to help. Nobody is forcing them to, and I don't see anywhere in this philosophy where it suggests people would.


    But I find all political philosophies to be inherently coercive one way or another. In every single case, some value has to be imposed on others.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
    OMNi: Wisdom at the cost of Sanity.

  10. #10
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Nocturne: It seems from what you said as if you agree with what I said, but I'm not sure. Do you?

    HTB: It seems like you want to impose some kind of unfair idea where people are completely beholden to all of other people's expectations with no opportunity for appeal or a way to get outside them, and no guarantee that the rules or punishments be spelled out. I don't like that very much. If someone has an expectation, I want to have the right to confront it, know exactly what it is, and what I'll lose if I violate it, and then have the opportunitity to do so if I still wish to, and whether I really need to do so.

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