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  1. Russell Muirhead

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee471

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Muirhead, R. 2013. Communitarianism. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Communitarianism affirms that the community rather than the individual should be the primary focus of philosophic and political attention. For contemporary communitarians, individuals remain important, but the moral significance of individual lives is inextricably bound to communities. In its recent iteration, communitarianism refers to a development in political theory in the 1980s and 1990s associated most prominently with such philosophers as Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, and Michael Walzer. But in the most general sense, communitarian ideas can be traced back to Aristotle, whose Politics asserts that the full development of individual capacities presupposes a certain kind of political community, and that in this respect “the city is prior to … each of us” (I.2 p. 37: 1253a20; see Aristotle). Among modern philosophers, communitarianism has an affinity with Hegel's thought, which explains moral ideals by reference to social conventions, or sittlichkeit (see Hegel, Georg Willhem Friedrich).


  • twentieth century;
  • ethics;
  • Kant, Immanuel;
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich;
  • politics;
  • Rawls, John;
  • deontology;
  • egalitarianism;
  • liberalism