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Moral Individualism and the Justification of Liberal Democracy

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This article discusses the connection between individualism, pluralism and the moral foundation of liberal democracy. It analyses whether the requirement of value pluralism promoted by liberal democracies leads inevitably to communitarian ethics, or whether the liberal and democratic values of autonomy, tolerance and equality are actually based on an objectivistic and teleological account of justice. The author argues that value-neutral procedural and methodological individualism cannot support the liberal demands for pluralism and tolerance in a democratic regime. Instead, the justification of liberal democracy has to replace mechanical, methodological individualism with moral individualism. Moral individualism shows that in order to be legitimate and functioning liberal democracy has to be based on the form of individualism which contains objectivist moral aspects.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Helsinki, Department of Philosophy, P.O. Box 24, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.

Publication date: 1998-12-01

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