Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-5zjcf Total loading time: 0.278 Render date: 2022-08-17T11:36:33.079Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

7 - Atomism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Charles Taylor
Affiliation:
McGill University, Montréal
Get access

Summary

I would like to examine the issue of political atomism, or at least to try to clarify what this issue is. I want to say what I think atomist doctrines consist in, and to examine how the issue can be joined around them – this is, how they might be proved or disproved, or at least cogently argued for or against, and what in turn they may be used to prove.

The term ‘atomism’ is used loosely to characterize the doctrines of social contract theory which arose in the seventeenth century and also successor doctrines which may not have made use of the notion of social contract but which inherited a vision of society as in some sense constituted by individuals for the fulfilment of ends which were primarily individual. Certain forms of utilitarianism are successor doctrines in this sense. The term is also applied to contemporary doctrines which hark back to social contract theory, or which try to defend in some sense the priority of the individual and his rights over society, or which present a purely instrumental view of society.

Of course, any term loosely used in political discourse can be defined in a host of ways. And perhaps one should even leave out of philosophical discourse altogether those terms which tend to be branded as epithets of condemnation in the battle between different views. One might well argue that ‘atomism’ is one such, because it seems to be used almost exclusively by its enemies.

Type
Chapter
Information
Philosophical Papers , pp. 187 - 210
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1985

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
99
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Atomism
  • Charles Taylor, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: Philosophical Papers
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173490.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Atomism
  • Charles Taylor, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: Philosophical Papers
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173490.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Atomism
  • Charles Taylor, McGill University, Montréal
  • Book: Philosophical Papers
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173490.008
Available formats
×