Rights and the Common Good: The Communitarian Perspective

Amitai Etzioni, Author, Amitai Etzioni, Editor Palgrave MacMillan $79.95 (293p) ISBN 978-0-312-10272-2
Neither an overview nor a history of the growing communitarian movement, this collection focuses, as sociologist (and movement leader) Etzioni states, on two core issues: the balance between rights and responsibilities, and the roles of institutions that foster moral values. The 30 previously published essays by academics and journalists engage a range of controversial topics. Noting that libertarians romanticize First Amendment history, Mary Ellen Gale argues that discriminatory verbal harassment should be seen as violating the equality guarantees of the Constitution. Also intriguing are Robert Godin's defense of government paternalism--his example posits more limits on tobacco promotion and availability--and William Galston's defense of the two-parent family, proposing ``braking'' mechanisms to slow divorce proceedings. More theoretically, Robert Dahl suggests several innovations (citizens assemblies and the like) to bring politics closer to people. Unfortunately, several articles--on topics like community policing or HIV notification--are either too dry or too short. And a thoughtful essay by Christopher Lasch reminds us that communitarianism still doesn't offer much guidance on issues like affirmative action or abortion. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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