Law, Politics, and the Claims of Community

This article aims to provide this needed analysis and then to show how it illuminates many of the exchanges taking place within the legal academy. It argues that the first step toward understanding “the claims of community” – whether in law or moral and political theory – is to recognize that, as the phrase itself suggests, more than one claim is involved. Merely to observe that the various proponents of community have as yet failed to establish a common and coherent communitarian position, though certainly true, is to miss the more critical insight: they are not engaged in such an attempt. Any assumption that supporters of “community” are coworkers in one and the same enterprise must therefore be firmly rejected. In short, the confusion in all three disciplines stems from the assumption that communitarianism represents a single viewpoint. The truth is rather that the claims of community are several and arise in a number of different contexts relevant to legal scholarship.