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The Empowered SelfLaw and Society in the Age of Individualism$
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Thomas Franck

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248094.001.0001

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Freedom of Conscience: A ‘Western’ Value?

Freedom of Conscience: A ‘Western’ Value?

(p.101) 6 Freedom of Conscience: A ‘Western’ Value?
The Empowered Self


Oxford University Press

This chapter examines one of the great claims advanced by individuals against compelled communitarian conformity: the claim to freedom of conscience. A necessary component of the new order is flexibility on the part of states towards their citizens' increasing desire to design their own identities and to bond with various layers of affinity-based — but non-traditional — community. The precondition for realising that self-expression is a willingness of states (as well as religions and tribes) to respect individualism, conceding to persons the right to make key decisions regarding identity and to express that right in a broad range of political, cultural, social, and moral choices, including the right of exit. Unlike in the past, a formal accommodation by the state to personal individuation is now a reality. It is not even exceptional, although this transformation of expectations is not invariably evident in state practice.

Keywords:   individualism, morality, identity, self-expression, personal choice, freedom of conscience, communitarian conformity, toleration, Western societies

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