Many have criticized liberalism for being too individualistic, but few have offered an alternative that goes beyond a vague affirmation of the need for community. In this entertaining book, written in dialogue form, Daniel Bell fills this gap, presenting and defending a distinctively communitarian theory against the objections of a liberal critic. Drawing on the works of such thinkers as Charles Taylor, Michael Sandel, and Alasdair MacIntyre, Bell attacks liberalism's individualistic view of the person by pointing to our social embeddedness. He develops Michael Walzer's idea that political thinking involves the interpretation of shared meanings emerging from the political life of a community, and intelligently rebuts criticism that this approach damages his case by being conservative and relativistic. Communitarianism and Its Critics is a provocative defense of a distinctly communitarian theory which will stimulate interest and debate among scholars and students of political theory as well as those approaching the subject for the first time.
"What has been needed...is a statement of communitarian positions which can be used as a point of reference. Daniel Bell...has provided just this in his excellent book."--Alasdair MacIntyre, in Radical Philosophy
"A clear and very readable, indeed enjoyable, piece of writing. The dialogue form is used skillfully to bring the communitarian position to life and to give an overview of the debate between it and liberalism which is central to current social philosophy."--Times Higher Education Supplement
"Bell's philosophical dialogue is witty and irreverential. The book reminds us of the rich heuristic potential of this much-neglected form....It offers the liveliest and most accessible introduction to the intensely important debate between liberals and communitarians that has yet appeared."--The
"Lucid, thought-provoking, and attentive to the anatomy of the current liberal debate. A must reading for the contemporary mind."--David A. Freeman, Washburn University