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Public Space and the Limits of Liberalism

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Title: Public Space and the Limits of Liberalism
Author: King, Mary
Department: Department of Philosophy
Program: Philosophy
Advisor: Freedman, Karyn
Abstract: If we desire the preservation of public spaces, then liberalism is not a suitable framework to this end. The discursive nature of liberalism combined with the political liberalist value of neutrality renders disagreements about public space inert. This is connected to a desire to reduce interference that I argue is at the heart of increased privatization of public spaces. Liberalism abstracts too far from land, making it inappropriate for navigating issues that are about the physicality of public space itself. Liberalism hierarchizes uses of public space, facilitated through liberal conceptions of land as property. I suggest three alternative theories that could better frame public space: 1) solidarism, 2) an ethical-ecological approach, and finally, 3) an Indigenous approach that centers the project of decolonization. These frameworks do not imply liberal property ownership, and they hold potential for public space – and therefore land – being a more integrated part of our communities.
Date: 2020
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