chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

A survey of this literature reveals that most of the contributions are made by non-philosophers. Of course, not every idea requires philosophical meddling, but there seem to be several reasons here why the application of a philosopher’s toolkit would be helpful. First, it is not immediately clear from the literature what is meant by the expression ‘civil society’. Different disciplines seem to approach the idea in different ways; there does not seem to be a fi xed meaning to which one can hang one’s hat in order to begin to critically evaluate it.4 The analytical tools of philosophy can help clarify the way the expression is and should be used. Second, much of the current discussion is entangled in empirical considerations; there is little serious refl ection on the normative status of civil society, especially as it relates to other concepts in the political philosopher’s panoply, such as democracy, justice, and rights. To be sure, a small group of political philosophers are making contributions of this sort.5 But it seems to me that much more philosophical work is needed in order to appreciate the nature and contemporary importance of civil society for democracy.