INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITARIAN POLICY STUDIES, 2000; The Communitarian Platform, // acs-EE2001

For these reasons, we hold that the rights of individuals cannot long be preserved without a communitarian perspective.

A communitarian perspective recognizes both individual human dignity and the social dimension of human existence.

A communitarian perspective recognizes that the preservation of individual liberty depends on the active maintenance of the institutions of civil society where citizens learn respect for others as well as self-respect; where we acquire a lively sense of our personal and civic responsibilities, along with an appreciation of our own rights and the rights of others; where we develop the skills of self-government as well as the habit of governing ourselves, and learn to serve others-- not just self.

A communitarian perspective recognizes that communities and polities, too, have obligations--including the duty to be responsive to their members and to foster participation and deliberation in social and political life.

A communitarian perspective does not dictate particular policies; rather it mandates attention to what is often ignored in contemporary policy debates: the social side of human nature; the responsibilities that must be borne by citizens, individually and collectively, in a regime of rights; the fragile ecology of families and their supporting communities; the ripple effects and long-term consequences of present decisions. The political views of the signers of this statement differ widely. We are united, however, in our conviction that a communitarian perspective must be brought to bear on the great moral, legal and social issues of our time.


PHILIP SELZNICK, professor emeritus of law and sociology at the School of Law, University of California at Berkeley, 1996; Social Justice: A Communitarian Perspective, The Responsive Community, Volume 6, Issue 4, Fall 1996, // acs-EE2001

Equality of Opportunity. When we embrace equality of opportunity as a principle of social justice, we acknowledge the value, within a moral community, of open competition for self-regarding ends. Whatever opportunities there are should be open to all without regard to social origins, including class, race, creed, ethnicity, or gender. Thus equality of opportunity vindicates moral equality. It has the vital but limited objective of overcoming prejudice and systematic subordination while maintaining the legitimacy of differential rewards.

In its elementary form equality of opportunity does not speak to all special advantages. A person born into affluence is privileged, but not necessarily because society recognizes an intrinsic moral or social superiority. Nor is the principle violated if some people are luckier than others. When barriers of caste and stigma come down, the door is open to merit but also to good fortune, manipulation, and aggressive competition.