Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

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Disputed term/author/ism Author
Communitarianism Barber Brocker I 690
Communitarianism/Barber: Barber is not considered communitarian by all authors, but he does represent the typical topoi of communitarian politics: - rejection of a political philosophy based on abstract principles ((s)
- the accusation of the separation of the individual from social ties ("atomism") and
- dissatisfaction with a purely instrumental view of political institutions.
BarberVsCommunitarianism: in contrast to the chief theorists of communitarianism, Barber participated in the communitarian reform movement around Amitai Etzioni.
Variants of communitarianism: a) substantialistic: here the community is seen as a given, against it:
b) procedural: this is about the common practice of counselling and decision-making. Barber is to be attributed to the latter variant. (1)(2)
BarberVsMacIntyre, BarberVsWalzer, BarberVsTaylor: Considering theorists like Michael Walzer, Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor as sceptics of a national policy of democratic society and as supporters of a civil society perspective (3), Barber's programme of a strong democracy had to appear as a quite radical and reasonable position because it ultimately gave a high rank to the national political community and participation in political decisions. (BarberVsTaylor, BarberVsWalzer, BarberVsMacIntyre).

1. Hartmut Rosa, „Fremde zu Nachbarn: die Vision einer demokratischen Bürgerschaft. Rezension zu Benjamin Barber, „Starke Demokratie“, in: Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 43/6, 1995 S. 1066-169.
2. W. Jay Reedy, „The relevance of Rousseau to Contemporary Communitarism. The Example of Benjamin Barber”, in: Philosophy and Social Criticism 21/2, 1995
3. Michael Haus, Kommunitarismus. Einführung und Analyse, Wiesbaden 2003

Michael Haus, „Benjamin Barber, Starke Demokratie“ in: Manfred Brocker (Hg.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018

PolBarb I
Benjamin Barber
The Truth of Power. Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House New York 2001

Brocker I
Manfred Brocker
Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert Frankfurt/M. 2018
Distributive Justice Walzer Mause I 199f
Distributive Justice/Walzer: Walzer represents an egalitarian position with regard to the distribution of goods. However, it is not a matter of levelling, but of a variety of goods whose distribution follows specific rules depending on the goods. Social Goods/Walzer: e.g. membership and affiliation, security and welfare, money and goods, offices, hard work, leisure time, upbringing and education, kinship and love, divine grace, recognition, political power. Dominant goods also allow their owners to acquire goods from another sphere while disregarding the distribution rules of that sphere. This is the case when persons hold offices in a society on the basis of mere party membership (and not on the basis of qualifications and performance) or when money (and not talent) decides on access to education.
Dominant goods are unjust because they violate the internal logic of the spheres of justice and establish a principle of rule that exists across the spheres.
Solution/Walzer: "complex equality": In communities with complex equality there are no dominant goods, the autonomy of the different spheres of justice is preserved. The principle of distribution of complex justice is formally as follows: "No social good X, regardless of its meaning, should be distributed to men and women who own a good Y solely because they possess this Y". (1)
Because no sphere is subordinated to the other, different individual development possibilities are opened up. If the sphere-specific distribution principles are observed, the distribution result can be open-ended, i.e. unequal.
VsWalzer: the practical question arises, how the autonomy and mutual independence of the spheres of justice can be preserved.
Walzer's goal of reducing dominance requires a demarcation of the spheres. Ultimately, this can only be achieved by a state power. However, this contradicts the role of community activities and civil society involvement. (VsCommunitarism).
VsWalzer: Question: Do his principles not only defend the status quo when they are so strongly tied to traditions and beliefs of a particular community? (2)

1. M. Walzer, Sphären der Gerechtigkeit. Ein Plädoyer für Pluralität und Gleichheit. Frankfurt a. M. 1992, S. 50.
2. Bernd Ladwig, Gerechtigkeitstheorien zur Einführung. Hamburg 2013. S. 167.

Mause I
Karsten Mause
Christian Müller
Klaus Schubert,
Politik und Wirtschaft: Ein integratives Kompendium Wiesbaden 2018
Sovereignty Walzer Gaus I 292
Sovereignty/international politics/Walzer/Brown: for Walzer, the rights of political communities derive from the rights of their members and '[t]he moral standing of any particular state depends on the reality of the common life it protects and the extent to which the sacrifices required by that protection are willingly accepted and thought worthwhile' (1992(1): 54). Cf.>Sovereignty/International political theory.
Brown: what distinguishes this position from that of the human rights regime is that it is up
to the members of a political community to determine what kind of 'common life' they wish to live,
and it cannot be assumed that their choice will be based on the rights of the individual; thus the universal element in this position does not concern what the community chooses, but rather its right to choose for itself the arrangements under which it is governed. >Lifeworld.
Community: for Walzer (1992(1): 90), communal
Gaus I 293
autonomy should be respected, and outsiders may only intervene when it is clear that the common life of a community does not exist or has broken down, for instance into slavery, massacre or genocide. This position, which Walzer initially established in the context of a discussion of the ethics of warfare has been defended in a series of books over the last two decades, and is consistent with the general account of justice presented in his major work of 'domestic' political theory, Spheres of Justice (1983(2); see also Walzer, 1987(3); 1994(4)). VsWalzer: one obvious objection to Walzer' s position - and is that the picture these
to Nardin's and Frost's (>Sovereignty/International political theory) - writers paint of the state does not seem to be drawn from life. Even if one accepts that communities should have the right to choose their form of government, overriding thereby the putative rights of individuals - and many would deny this, arguing that there is no intrinsic value to >diversity - it is by no means clear that the 'fit' between existing states and political communities allows this communal right to be activated under the Westphalian system. >International political theory/Brown, >International law/International political theory.

1. Walzer, M. (1992) Just and Unjust Wars (1977), 2nd edn. New York: Basic.
2. Walzer, M. (1983) Spheres of Justice. London: Martin Robertson.
3. Walzer, M. (1987) Interpretation and Social Criticism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
4. Waver, M. (1994) Thick and Thin: Moral mgument at Home and Abroad. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Brown, Chris 2004. „Political Theory and International Relations“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004