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3rd Unit : 5th Study Group Session

3rd Unit : 5th Study Group Session

The Limits of Self-Perception in Liberalism Unencumbered Selves and the Self-Conception of Communitarianism - in the Case of Michael J. Sandel -
Charles Taylor, Principles of Communitarianism and Understanding of Modernity-.

The 5th Study Meeting, the 3rd Unit

In the 5th study group session of the 3rd unit, held on February 28 at Meeting room 1 of Toyo University Hakusan Campus, Muramatsu Akira, associate professor in the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University and Nagashima Takashi (IRCP) gave presentations.

The presentation by Muramatsu Akira was entitled "The Limits of Self-Perception in Liberalism Unencumbered Selves and the Self-Conception of Communitarianism?in the Case of Michael J. Sandel?". With an introduction to the theory of John Rawls, the intention of the presentation was to show Sandel's blistering critique of Rawls's theory from the standpoint of communitarianism.

Liberalism, roughly speaking, takes the position that the right to self-determination can be only restricted by the harm principle, according to the principles of the right to self-determination and respect for autonomy. It is characterized by respect for each other in society where pluralistic values are dominant, and Rawls's theory of justice takes the same position as above. While the right to self-determination is important, ethical problems that are impossible to solve under the principle of respect for autonomy inevitably arise, such as whether it should be allowed to manipulate genes or not. Therefore, the argument is presented that it may be necessary to pursue the values of goodness, happiness, and virtue. In this argument, however, there arises the problem of whether we have knowledge of happiness or a theory of virtue that can achieve common understanding, as opposed to dogmatism. Thus, Muramatsu proposes that it is necessary to pass through a narrow path while avoiding both the risks of such relativism and dogmatism. Based on that, he carefully explained the related basic matters.

The 5th Study Meeting, the 3rd Unit

Muramatsu finished his speech by saying that though it is necessary to bind ourselves by a sense of community in order to distribute to the worst-off (the difference principle), self-perception in the liberal "unencumbered selves" like Rawls, in other words, the concept that the true nature of selves is freedom and thus they are not bound by the shackles of the community, cannot realize that theory and what is needed is self-perception of the community and others as the essential components of the self?this is what Sandel, who takes up the position of communitarianism, emphasizes the most in the critiques of Rawls's theories.

Nagashima Takashi gave a presentation entitled "Charles Taylor, Principles of Communitarianism and Understanding of Modernity?." Charles Taylor is a Canadian philosopher born in 1931, and published several great books such as Hegel and A Secular Age.

The 5th Study Meeting, the 3rd Unit

The issue that Taylor presents is that there can be and there actually is modernization that is different from Western modernity. Taylor says that modern self-perception is really the starting point of modernity and therefore clarification of self-perception could offer a clue to solving the problems of modern times. Thus, Taylor proposes "social imaginary" as the conceptual mechanism for that. This common understanding enabled various practices implemented communally and has been unconsciously accepted by society. Nagashima Takashi discussed secularity as a concrete example of modern self-perception. He concluded that Taylor's communitarianism placed importance on the social space of the people, not the space of theorists, as is evident from the concept of social imaginary.

The two presentations were given in one study group session, which was very successful as many participants asked questions.