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Rights, Markets and Community, 11 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 649 (1988)


Professor Jeremy Waldron's When Justice Replaces Affection: The Need for Rights, raises the question: What role, if any, remains for institutional rights within the communitarian framework? The question is interesting only if the contrast between liberalism and communitarianism is characterized as a difference between a political ideology that is rights-based (liberalism) and one that is anti-rights-based (communitarianism). Indeed, Professor Waldron characterizes the difference in precisely that way. The communitarian rejects liberalism, which he sees as an ideology whose core concepts are property, markets, and rights, whose guiding regulative norm is impartial justice, and whose meta-ethic is subjective, relative, and contractarian. As communitarians characterize liberalism, all important sociopolitical, economic and legal institutions are contractual, or market based; and justice itself can be treated as the outcome of a rational contract among idealized, individually rational autonomous agents.

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