Group life has always played an important part in the theory and practice of liberalism. It is sometimes suggested that liberalism is characterized by a condition of ‘abstract individualism’. According to this picture, a liberal society consists of a state with limited powers on the one side and autonomous individuals possessing rights against the state on the other. However, this presentation of liberalism has always been misleading. While the liberal will-indeed, almost by definition-defend the right of individuals to determine their own lives and pursue their chosen conceptions of the good, it is incorrect to imply that, in so doing, individuals do not act collectively or that their various conceptions of the good are not, in large part, moulded by others with whom they act in common.