ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cultural Commons A Philosophical Analysis—Part II

This article explores the ways in which a background of non-discursive practices that are properly describable as a “cultural commons” underlie the very possibility of law and norm in the governance of a social group. This efficacy of these practices provides conceptual sources for a recovery of other forms of the common, such as the land or the environmental commons. The idea of a cultural commons is a distinctive ideal that stands apart from other political and moral ideals, such as liberty, equality, and fraternity. It stands apart from ideals of trust and cooperation. The article specifies how it is related to these, and to other fundamental institutions of modernity, such as capital and the state. As such, it cannot be inserted into constitutions, or directly be the goal of politics. It is a non-optional and non-cancellable ideal, that might be identified with what Marx called “unalienated” life.


In Part I of this article, I had claimed that when individuals inhabiting the land commons come to see themselves as a group, it is fundamentally due to a background of mostly non-discursive practices that I have called the “cultural commons.” And in the closing section of Part I, I had expounded on the role of the cultural commons in making possible the very conception of law, that is, in the very possibility of laws having the particular meaning or directiveness they have. I turn next to the other point that I had promised to expound—the role of a specific feature of the background of cultural commons: the element of relations of trust in side-by-side living, that informs the very idea of sharing once the individuals who inhabit the land commons see themselves as a group. Its role is somewhat different, not so much to make possible our conception of the law as to make possible its implementation. The relations of unselfconscious trust that characterise the cultural background of practices in a group makes possible the implementation of a range of regulatory norms and laws in the foreground of the group’s ongoing social life.

The Cultural Commons and the Implementability of Law

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Updated On : 12th Jul, 2021
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