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Ronald Beiner's invigorating critique of liberal theory and liberal practices takes on the shibboleths of modern Western discourse. He confronts the aridity of liberal societies that possess incommensurable "values" and "rights," but no principles. To Beiner, this neutralist view is both a false description of liberal society and an incoherent political ideal. Rather, he encourages the theorist to remain faithful to the important task of questioning and criticism, instead of serving as a source of ideological reassurance about our own superiority.
Beiner looks to the Socratic tradition for guidance. Permitting ethos to replace values, and discourse about "the good" to replace talk about "rights," the theorist is able to reorder social priorities. Considered in this light, the liberal political philosophy of the 1970s and 1980s appears insufficiently Socratic, as does a liberal way of life that presents itself as a model of imitation.
Polemical, impassioned, and brilliantly argued, What's the Matter with Liberalism? is essential reading for everyone who cares about contemporary theory and the future of liberal society.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Liberalism, Political science Philosophy, Political ethics, Civil rights, Citizenship, Social justice, Socialism