Document Type


Publication Date



Political Science


James T. Murphy


Our current understanding of citizenship is grounded in our culture of individualism and results in a flawed conception of the good citizen in a liberal democratic state. The culture of individualism presents a flawed view of the person, fails to recognize our interconnections and common problems, encourages only adversarial democracy, alters the nature of our democracy and fails to recognize the potentials of common action. For these reasons the culture of individualism destroys meaningful citizenship as it alienates us from one another and prevents us from recognizing a limited common good --the protection and enhancement of each individual's life opportunities. The requirements of citizenship presented in this paper espouse a notion of citizenship that goes far beyond individualism. Liberalism and its focus on liberal rights has fostered the culture of individualism, yet we do not abandon these principles, we simply add to them. Indeed, our first requirement entails a belief in the liberal essentials of personal autonomy and basic equality. Onto these essential groundings we add a respect for community relationships and the participation and volunteerism this respect entails. Thirdly and finally we add the requirement of knowledge, both technical (factual) and deliberative (the ability to make and defend judgments). The citizen who attempts to live his or her life in accordance with these requirements is a good citizen in a modern liberal democracy.