Taylor and Locke on Political Society: An Individualist Perspective on the Obligation to Belong
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The communitarianist political philosopher Charles Taylor has argued against what he has called the ‘atomist doctrines’: individualist positions based on the primacy of individual rights that originated in John Locke: if the atomist values individual rights, they should also value the human capacities that these rights protect. Because human capacities may only be fulfilled within society, individuals have an obligation to belong. In the present thesis it is argued that firstly, in Lockean individualism, obligations are already posed to society, because society is viewed as a mutual contract. Secondly, it is argued that moral conceptions of voluntarism and freedom are key to the protection of human rights, when the threat to these rights is posed by the political society that ought to protect them, because these are basic to a right to resistance and seeking refuge.