Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Alexander, Thomas


I hold that people's efforts to transmit their meaningfully and historically constructed values to their upcoming generations rely on living cultures. Since I assume that both universal values and particular values are meaningful, I will not privilege one or the other. I will rather unify them in what I have called living cultures. My hypothesis of living cultures is gradually presented in three chapters. Two recent Colombian real-life cases exhibiting the difficulties of unifying people's collective and individual rights are discussed in the first chapter. I argue that those real-life cases reveal the classical philosophical problem of how to understand individual and collective human values. After examining John Rawls' account for universal values as relying on an individualistic theory of human beings and some communitarian critiques to Rawls and to individualistic theories of human lives, in the second chapter I claim that the philosophical debate between liberal and communitarian assumes that cultures are fixed. Reading Josiah Royce, in the third chapter I suggest that cultures should be understood as living so that universal, individual, particular, and community values coexist together. I conclude indicating that a culture is living when a common history and a common hope dwells in the members of a culture in question and suggesting that individualism and collectivism coexist on living cultures.




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