Taylor on solidarity

Nicholas H. Smith, Arto Laitinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


After characterizing Taylor's general approach to the problems of solidarity, we distinguish and reconstruct three contexts of solidarity in which this approach is developed: the civic, the socio-economic, and the moral. We argue that Taylor's distinctive move in each of these contexts of solidarity is to claim that the relationship at stake poses normatively justified demands, which are motivationally demanding, but insufficiently motivating on their own. On Taylor's conception, we need some understanding of extra motivational sources which explain why people do (or would) live up to the exacting demands. Taylor accepts that our self-understanding as members of either particular communities or humanity at large has some motivational power, but he suspects that in many cases the memberships are too thin to resonate deeply and enduringly within us. In Taylor's view, a realistic picture of what moves people to solidarity has to account for the extra motivation, when it happens. We propose an alternative view in which morality, democracy and socio-economic cooperation can be seen as separate spheres or relations which are normatively justified, motivationally demanding, but also sufficiently motivating on their own.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-70
Number of pages23
JournalThesis Eleven
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


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