The Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues


Luke C. Sheahan


Conservative political philosophers should be counted among, as Nisbet writes, “those thinkers who have resisted the appeal of the One, the unitary and monistic, and have found not merely reality but freedom and justice and equity to lie in plurality.” They should take as their starting point Nisbet’s tradition of the plural community. Given our place in history, following the increasing alienation and decline of social groups chronicled by Putnam and others, conservatives should feel free to pillage the ideas of pluralist thinkers outside the conservative tradition. Nisbet admits repeatedly throughout the decades of his long career that there seems no sign that the tide of individualization and politicization will turn and the moribund social order will revive. Nearly three decades after his death, it is hard to disagree with his assessment. That said, Nisbet hated, as only a scholar of a concept can, the idea of historical inevitability. Again and again in history we see quick changes for better and for worse due to countervailing developments that are difficult to perceive let alone understand until, like Minerva’s owl, they have taken flight. The conservative cannot hold to some structure of inevitable decline any more than he can inevitable progress. In the meantime, conservatives should develop the ideas necessary for the plural community to become a reality.





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Lawrence Alexander & Steven D. Smith

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