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No one knows who counts as a democrat, as a fascist, or as a liberal. It is much easier to know whether it is good or bad to earn one of these political labels. Virtually everyone – including repressive regimes in eastern Europe – regards it as good to be democratic. These days, however, it is hard to encounter a sympathetic wink for fascism. Liberalism is more controversial. A growing number of our colleagues in law schools now regard it as intellectually bankrupt, if not worse, to think of oneself as a liberal. Respectable philosophers chronicle the poverty of liberalism, yet argue that poor as it might be, liberal thought remains rich in unbridgeable rifts called "antinomies." Now comes Bruce Ackerman with his redoubtable energy and analytic acumen bent on upholding an undefined liberal tradition. Social Justice in the Liberal State attempts primarily to prove that at least one coherent, intellectually respectable form of liberal thought survives-namely Ackerman's.




Social Justice in the Liberal State by Bruce Ackerman, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980, pp. 392, $17.50.

This article originally appeared in 83 Colum. L. Rev. 2099 (1983). Reprinted by permission.

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