By Richard Johnson Dagger
Although few want to deny their importance, many political theorists have recently complained that too much weight is now attached to individual rights. The result, as they see it, is an excessive individualism that blinds people to the needs of the community or state to which they belong. We should be less concerned with our rights, in their view, and more concerned with our responsibilities. Those who advance this view typically argue against liberalism. In Civic Virtues, the newest addition to the distinguished Oxford Political Theory series, Richard Dagger takes a different approach. Finding the proper relationship between rights and responsibilities requires us not to choose betwen liberalism and republicanism, he argues, but to unite them in a republican form of liberalism. Is such a marriage of republicanism and liberalism possible? Is it desirable? Dagger demonstrates how republican liberalism proceeds from a fundamental right of autonomy, to the recognition of interdependence and reciprocity, and on to the cultivation of the civic virtues of the public-spirited citizen. Indeed, republican liberalism promises not only to reconcile individual rights and civic duties, but to enhance political deliberation and the sense of community as well.