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Hegel's Critique of Liberalism
Steven B. Smith
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 80, No. 1 (Mar., 1986), pp. 121-139
Published by: American Political Science Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1957087
Page Count: 19
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Liberalism, Political revolutions, Morality, Social contract, Civil society, Political ethics, Empiricism, Communitarianism, State of nature
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A recent and perhaps surprising development in political theory has been the revival of neo-Kantian liberalism, with its doctrines of the neutral state and equal concern and respect. Critics of liberalism have suggested, however, that Kantian notions of rights and rationality are too thin a foundation on which to build satisfactory forms of community and political life. In this paper I examine the critique of rights-based liberalism by returning to the philosophy of Hegel. Hegel's position, I suggest, provides us with a much needed middle ground between liberalism and its contemporary critics. Like the modern communitarians he is critical of the individualistic and a historical conceptions of rights underlying the liberal polity, but like many liberals he is skeptical of the claims to recreate a democratic, participatory Gemeinschaft that would leave citizens defenseless before their particular communities. I conclude that like Montesquieu before him and Tocqueville after, Hegel looked to the "corporations" or intermediary associations to skirt the extremes of the market place and civic virtue.
The American Political Science Review © 1986 American Political Science Association