Looking Backward
A Critical Appraisal of Communitarian Thought
Derek L. Phillips


When social reformers blame the current ills of Western culture on the loss of community, they often evoke an ideal past in which societies were characterized by shared values, respect for tradition, commitment to the common good, and similar attributes. Communitarians assert that community was prominent in the past, and argue that reclaiming the role community formerly played is necessary to counter the negative effects of individualism and liberal thinking. Considering the relevance of community for our moral and political life today, Derek Phillips offers the first thorough critique of the historical, often nostalgic, claims that underlie dominant versions of communitarian philosophy.

First published in 1993.

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