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A Study on the Public Philosophy of Sandel

Author: GeHongMei
Tutor: YuWuJin
School: Fudan University
Course: Foreign Philosophy
Keywords: community common good citizenship self-rule political participation publicphilosophy civic republicanism
CLC: B712
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 206
Quote: 0
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The public philosophy of Michael Sandel comes from Aristotle and benefits sufficiently from the thought of Hegel, Tocqueville and Arendt. As a well-known representative of communitarianism and republicanism, Sandel focus largely on criticisms of Rawls and liberalism in many ways. According to Sandel, the liberal principle that the right is prior to the good presupposes that the self is prior to its ends. Sandel refers to the self understood in this way as the unencumbered self, unencumbered by any obligations or relationships not freely chosen. With regard to the liberal principle that the right is prior to the good, it goes as goes the requirement that the state should adopt Voluntarism as policy, and that the state ought to remain neutral regarding competing conceptions of the good life. And by reviewing the history of the United States, Sandel demonstrates the social mainstream did not posses the different values on the same time and attempts to show how liberalism "lost its moral and civic voice" in turning toward the principle of state neutrality.But Sandel denies he is a communitarian because, unlike communitarians, he thinks that moral values are not relative to communities but are objective facts discoverable through public deliberation. Sandel’s alternative to liberalism is civic republicanism, he thinks that we should abandon the strategy of appealing to individual rights in defense of morally controversial behavior and adopt instead the strategy of appealing to the public good, that is, renounce politics rights-based and advocated politics common good-based. Sandel holds that moral agency (political agency) should be "constituted self as citizen accepting and approving aims of community. Once we realize that selves cannot be separated from their community, there will be little objection to deriving rights from a consideration of the common good. And it follows that the government cannot be neutral with regard to the individual conceptions of the good life. Rather, the government must seek to foster the communal values and the communal bond, through institutions such as townships, schools, religions, and "virtue-sustaining occupations" that form the "character of mind" and "habits of the heart" that a democratic society fosters. Statecraft needs a revitalized civic life. So, firstly, it’s necessary to reform citizenship and make citizens have a sense of belonging, a concern for the whole, a moral bond with the community whose fate is at stake. Secondly, we must develop public space by proliferating sites of civic activity and political power, and then equip citizens for self-rule and political participation.

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