This book is an original critique of contemporary liberal theories of justice, focusing on the problem of how to relate the personal point of view of the individual to the impartial perspective of justice.
Margaret Moore's examination of prominent contemporary arguments for liberal justice reveals that individualist theories are subject to two serious difficulties: the motivation problem and the integrity problem. Individualists cannot explain why the individual should be motivated to act in accordance with the dictates of liberal justice, and-related to this-offer radically incoherent accounts of the person. Revisionist liberal attempts to ground liberalism in contextual and perfectionist terms offer more defensible foundations, but Dr Moore argues that such theories do not support liberal political principles.
She concludes by sketching a historical and concrete approach to political and ethical theorizing which reformulates the relation between self-interest and morality, and is not subject to the problems that beset liberal individualist theories of justice. Her book advances the debate between communitarians and liberals about the kind of moral foundation which a liberal society requires.
Margaret Moore is of the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
'Moore successfully sketches out the direction in which any viable communitarian theory must proceed.' Canadian Philosophical Reviews
'This is a very good book. Margaret Moore critically discusses, with admirable clarity and fairness, the work of a number of leading contemporary liberal thinkers ... The analysis is detailed and careful, with far more insights being generated than axes ground. ... this book would provide one with a sound and sophisticated overview of the "main positions" staked out in contemporary liberal theory. I have read a great deal of material dealing with liberalism and communitarianism over the past five years, and this is among the best.' Patrick Neal, University of Vermont, American Political Science Review, 1994
'it is a relief to turn to the cooler, calmer mode in which Margaret Moore pursues her meticulous examination of certain aspects of contemporary liberal thought' Times Higher Education Supplement
'Foundations of Liberalism consists of a solid sustained critical analysis of liberal principles ... and then some sensible recommendations on the way liberal theory might be reconstituted ... Moore's book is an elegant development of a theme of the incongruity between the liberal premise of rationally self-interested agents, or "non-trusts" ... and the liberal commitment to justice, whether conceived as impartiality or as mutual advantage.' Canadian Journal of Political Science
'An excellent review of the literature and a persuasive argument for the communitarian view' P. Coby, Social and Behavioral Sciences