Communitarianism and Animals

  • Alasdair Cochrane
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series book series (PMAES)


We saw in the last chapter that John Rawls published his A Theory of Justice as a response to the dominant utilitarian ideas of the time. Rawls wanted to offer a defence of liberal democratic institutions that was not contingent on overall welfare and which took the so-called separateness of persons seriously. While Rawls’s two principles were not suddenly heralded and adopted by the political leaders of the time, in terms of its impact on political theory, Rawls’s project can be viewed as something of a success. After all, numerous alternative liberal theories emerged after the publication of Rawls’s book, and it is fair to say that liberalism has been the dominant political theory in the Anglo-American world ever since. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, liberalism has not been without its critics. One of the most important challenges to Rawls’s thought, and to liberalism more generally, emerged in the 1980s from a group of thinkers who have been labelled ‘communitarians’. While all of the theories examined in this book come in different shapes and sizes, with all having their own internal disputes, it is perhaps fair to say that such diversity is most pronounced in the case of communitarianism. For one, some of those thinkers most famously associated with communitarianism — Michael Walzer, Michael Sandel, Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor — have resisted the tag.1


Animal Welfare Native People Political Theory Common Good Political Community 
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Copyright information

© Alasdair Cochrane 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alasdair Cochrane
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

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