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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 28, 2012

Freedom, Religion, and Gender

Erica L. Neely
Pages 147-158

Two Concepts of Community

Communities play an important role in many areas of philosophy, ranging from epistemology through social and political philosophy. However, two notions of community are often conflated. The descriptive concept of community takes a community to be a collection of individuals satisfying a particular description. The relational concept of community takes a community to consist of more than a set of members satisfying a particular trait; there must also be a relation of recognition among the members or between the members and the community as a whole. The descriptive concept is simpler, however, it does not provide a sufficiently robust concept of community. I argue instead that the relational notion is philosophically richer and more accurately captures the true nature of a community.

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