Theory of Citizenship and what constitutes the "Good Life"

Essay by willywonkaCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2006

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Several of the articles we have read suggest that there is a shared American culture or at least a set of principles to foster a social good that aims at more than mere strategic civil peace. Many of political, legal, and religious theorists we have read disagree on what constitutes. "The good life", they also have differing views on how the structure and substance of liberalism can both promote or hinder the spread of liberalism itself. Some of these views come in conflict with the idea that dissident and ethical communities should be preserved and protected by the U.S Constitution and balancing the right of the community's view of "The good life" over that of the individuals can be acceptable.

First we must look at "The good life" itself by examining Amy Gutmann and Michael Sandel. Gutmann agrees with Sandel in that when a society's social institutions are well organized, its citizens can recognize a common good worth striving for which they would be unable to recognize alone.

In contrast to Sandel, however, Gutmann

believes that the common good mentioned is liberal justice. Moreover, Gutmann

points out that liberal justice is not necessarily the only virtue of social institutions.

This view makes us look at the concept of liberal justice and liberal legalism in which both Sandel and Stephen Macedo have somewhat differing opinions than Gutmann.

Sandel and Macedo would argue that the law should be a system of impartial rules that Macedo feels "serve as a framework within which individuals and groups can pursue their own divergent and independently defined conceptions of what constitutes the good life." Although this would seem similar to Gutmann's views it is different in that Macedo feels that the individual can achieve the good life if he is allowed to determine that for himself.