Contemporary Political Theory 5 (4):405-427 (2006)

Some theorists have argued recently that Berlinian value pluralism points not to liberalism, as Berlin supposed, but, in effect, to some form of communitarianism. To what extent is this true, and, to the extent that it is true, what kind of communitarianism fits best with the pluralist outlook? I argue that pluralists should acknowledge community as an important source of value and as a substantial value in itself, but they should also be prepared to question traditions and to respect values other than community. In particular, pluralism points to personal autonomy as playing a special role when we must choose among incommensurable goods in conflict. Consequently, the pluralist outlook is at odds with conservative communitarianisms that tend to place existing traditions beyond question, and with radical variants of communitarianism, such as Marxism and classical anarchism, which look forward to future communities in which the need to cope with hard public choices has largely been eliminated. Rather, Berlinian pluralism fits best with a liberal or moderate kind of communitarianism that balances community with other goods, especially personal autonomy
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DOI 10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300249
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