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The New Restoration

Onora O’Neill, 22 November 1990

The New Conservatism: Cultural Criticism and the Historians’ Debate 
by Jürgen Habermas, translated by Shierry WeberNicholsen.
Polity, 270 pp., £29.50, February 1990, 0 7456 0679 2
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... Should philosophers be politically committed, engagés in the manner of Socrates or of Sartre? Or should they adopt an aloof and distanced posture, like Plato after his early political disappointments, who views concern with this-worldly affairs as (at best) a conscientious return from the heights to ‘the cave’? Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls are surely the two most distinguished political philosophers of our day, and their work exhibits many parallels: but on this deeply political matter they are worlds apart ...

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