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Summary In the latter part of the twentieth century, a number of  political theorists began to argue that “traditional” conceptions of liberalism – such as those offered by John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill – were no longer able to respond satisfactorily to the challenges associated with securing justice amidst the increasing plurality of competing, conflicting, and often incommensurable and irreconcilable beliefs present in contemporary constitutional democracies. Effectively addressing those challenges, it was suggested, would require (1) a redrawing of the boundaries of liberal concern so as to better distinguish between matters of public and private interest – between the political and the nonpolitical; and (2) a focus on securing a consensus on a framework for regulating and mediating only the former. The school of thought associated with this line of argument has come to be known as political liberalism, the most famous (contemporary) proponent of which is John Rawls, author of the architectonic text Political Liberalism. According to Rawls, a purely political liberalism is animated by a “freestanding” conception of justice, one that is not derived from any particular (controversial) metaphysical or epistemological view and limits its application to matters of public import – that is, issues that affect all members of the polity, such as decisions concerning voting and property rights and religious toleration, what Rawls characterizes as “constitutional essentials and issues of basic justice.”
Key works Examples of detailed conceptions of political liberalism are provided in Rawls 1993; Ackerman 1980; Gaus 1996; and Moon 1993.
Introductions Articles that provide an excellent introduction to the concept of political liberalism include Rawls 1985; Larmore 1990; Ackerman 1994; and Shklar 1989.
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  1. Ruth Abbey (2001). The Complete Works of Harriet Taylor Mill (Review). Hypatia 16 (1):94-97.
  2. Edward Abplanalp, Background Environmental Justice: An Extension of Rawls's Political Liberalism.
    This dissertation extends John Rawls’s mature theory of justice out to address the environmental challenges that citizens of liberal democracies now face. Specifically, using Rawls’s framework of political liberalism, I piece together a theory of procedural justice to be applied to a constitutional democracy. I show how citizens of pluralistic democracies should apply this theory to environmental matters in a four stage contracting procedure. I argue that, if implemented, this extension to Rawls’s theory would secure background environmental justice. I explain (...)
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  3. Andrés Acosta (2013). Nota Del traductor. Ideas y Valores 62 (152):249-265.
    RESUMEN Se analiza si la versión de la justicia como equidad, presentada en El liberalismo político, es genuinamente una concepción política. Se examina el problema de la razonabilidad de las doctrinas comprehensivas, y se indaga luego si el argumento en dos etapas afecta la integridad estructural del liberalismo político. Se concluye que J. Rawls fracasa en su intento de justificar un liberalismo independiente de una doctrina comprehensiva de carácter liberal. ABSTRACT The article analyzes whether the conception of justice as fairness, (...)
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  4. Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij (2011). Review of Robert B. Talisse, Democracy and Moral Conflict (Cambridge UP, 2009). [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 61 (244):666-668.
    The review argues that Talisse's epistemic defense of democracy in his "Democracy and Moral Conflict," albeit novel and interesting, falls prey to an epistemic analogue of the problem of reasonable moral pluralism that Rawls famously posed for moral justifications of democracy.
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  5. John P. Anderson (2003). Patriotic Liberalism. Law and Philosophy 22 (6):577 - 595.
  6. Leite Araujo & B. Luiz (2007). A Decade of Debate : Discourse Theory Versus Political Liberalism. In José Rubio Carrecedo (ed.), Political Philosophy: New Proposals for New Questions: Proceedings of the 22nd Ivr World Congress, Granada 2005, Volume Ii = Filosofía Política: Nuevas Propuestas Para Nuevas Cuestiones. Franz Steiner Verlag.
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  7. Matthew Arbo (2013). Why Political Liberalism? On John Rawls's Political Turn by Paul Weithman. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 33 (1):203-204.
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  8. D. Archard (forthcoming). John Rawls, Political Liberalism. Radical Philosophy.
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  9. Saulius Arlauskas & Daiva Petrėnaitė (2013). The Principle of Freedom in the Law of Democratic Country. Jurisprudence 20 (2):407-428.
    Although the need of freedom is definite, the concept of individual freedom, while being interpreted with legal terms, causes not only theoretical, but also practical problems. The observed two extremes of freedom are defined as any human self-expression as well as the license, where the state power is generally attributed to disregard personal freedom. In this article the freedom of expression and state enforcement jurisdiction dichotomy are addressed by discussing positive and negative conceptions of freedom and the relationship between the (...)
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  10. Richard Arneson, Political Liberalism, Religious Liberty, and Religious Establishment.
    Religion is a trap and a snare for states in the modern world. People fervently believe in religious doctrines, which they take to be central for the guidance of their own lives and pivotal for determining morally appropriate and just laws and public policies. The religious beliefs of members of modern societies tend to be wildly diverse. They conflict with each other in ways that resist sensible compromise. Jesus is either the Son of God, the Savior whose teachings will lead (...)
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  11. Richard Arneson, Rawls Versus Utilitarianism in the Light of Political Liberalism.
    The critique of utilitarianism forms a crucial subplot in the complex analysis of social justice that John Rawls develops in his first book, A Theory of Justice.1 The weaknesses of utilitarianism indicate the need for an alternative theory, and at many stages of the argument the test for the adequacy of the new theory that Rawls elaborates is whether it can be demonstrated to be superior to the utilitarian rival. The account of social justice shifts in the transition to Rawls’s (...)
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  12. Richard J. Arneson, Value Pluralism Does Not Support Liberalism.
    Following hints in the writings of Isaiah Berlin, some political theorists hold that the thesis of value pluralism is true and that this truth provides support for political liberalism of a sort that prescribes wide guarantees of individual liberty.1 There are many different goods, and they are incommensurable. Hence, people should be left free to live their own lives as they choose so long as they don’t harm others in certain ways. In a free society there is a strong presumption (...)
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  13. Sonia Arribas (2012). Cano, Germán:" Adoquines bajo la playa. Escenografías biopolíticas del 68". Anales Del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía 29 (2):744-746.
    This article deals with Donald Davidson’s concept of metaphor and Richard Rorty’s use of it for his version of political liberalism. Rorty assumes that metaphor is a linguistic element that is impossible to understand. Metaphor is an unintelligible “call” that, from within the private sphere, provokes in individuals the desire to create alternative forms of life. Once metaphor has become literal, it –and the new form of life that it entails– can form part of public life. Metaphor is the guarantee (...)
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  14. Catherine Audard (1996). Political Liberalism, Secular Republicanism: Two Answers to the Challenges of Pluralism. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 40:163-175.
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  15. Mitch Avila (2011). Human Rights and Toleration in Rawls. Human Rights Review 12 (1):1-14.
    In a Society of Peoples as Rawls conceives it, human rights function as “criteria for toleration.” This paper defends the conception of human rights that appears in Rawls’ The Law of Peoples as normatively and theoretically adequate. I claim that human rights function as criteria for determining whether or not a given society or legal system can be tolerated. As such, “human rights” are not themselves basic facts or judgments or ascriptions, but rather the means by which we collectively attempt (...)
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  16. Mitch Avila (2004). Political Liberalism and Asymmetrical Rights for Minority Comprehensive Doctrines. Human Rights Review 5 (2):3-21.
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  17. Mitchell Avila (2007). Defending a Law of Peoples: Political Liberalism and Decent Peoples. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 11 (1):87 - 124.
    In this paper I reconstruct and defend John Rawls' The Law of Peoples, including the distinction between liberal and decent peoples. A “decent people” is defined as a people who possesses a comprehensive doctrine and uses that doctrine as the ground of political legitimacy, while liberal peoples do not possess a comprehensive doctrine. I argue that liberal and decent peoples are bound by the same normative requirements with the qualification that decent peoples accept the same normative demands when they are (...)
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  18. Michael Bacon (2007). Richard Rorty: Pragmatism and Political Liberalism. Lexington Books.
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  19. Gabriele Badano (2013). Political Liberalism and the Justice Claims of the Disabled: A Reconciliation. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (4):1-22.
    Unlike his theory of justice as fairness, John Rawls’s political liberalism has generally been spared from critiques regarding what is due to the disabled. This paper demonstrates that, due to the account of the basic ideas of society and persons provided by Rawls, political liberalism requires that the interests of numerous individuals with disabilities should be put aside when the most fundamental issues of justice are settled. My aim is to accommodate within public reason the due concern for the disabled (...)
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  20. Carla Bagnoli (forthcoming). Starting Points: Kantian Constructivism Reassessed. Ratio Juris.
    G.A. Cohen, and J. Raz object that Constructivism is incoherent because it crucially deploys unconstructed elements in the structure of justification. This paper offers a reply on behalf of constructivism, by reassessing the role of such unconstructed elements. First, it shows that a shared conception of rational agency works as a starting point for the justification, but it does not play a foundational role. Second, it accounts for the unconstructed norm that constrains the activity of construction as constitutive. Finally, on (...)
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  21. Stephen W. Ball (1998). Critical Review of Rawls's Political Liberalism: A Utilitarian and Decision-Theoretical Analysis of the Main Arguments. Utilitas 10 (02):222-.
  22. Mohammed A. Bamyeh (2013). Anarchist Method, Liberal Intention, Authoritarian Lesson: The Arab Spring Between Three Enlightenments. Constellations 20 (2):188-202.
  23. Brian Barry (1995). John Rawls and the Search for Stability. [REVIEW] Ethics 105 (4):874 - 915.
  24. Brian Barry (1994). In Defense of Political Liberalism. Ratio Juris 7 (3):325-330.
  25. Donald Beggs (1999). Rawls's Political Postmodernism. Continental Philosophy Review 32 (2):123-141.
    John Rawls has recently shifted to a "freestanding" or "political" liberalism from his earlier "comprehensive" and "moral" liberalism. I argue that this move is based on several key features that make Rawlsian liberal pluralism indelibly postmodern. Two of the more obvious features are the denial of foundationalism and the rejection of a truth status for public-sphere justifications of the basic political structure. In conclusion, I suggest that a late-modern postliberalism is a viable alternative.
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  26. Derek R. Bell (2004). Creating Green Citizens? Political Liberalism and Environmental Education. Journal of Philosophy of Education 38 (1):37–54.
  27. Elena Beltrán (2012). Ciudadanía reticente y el significado de respeto. Dilemata 10:173-192.
    All of a sudden, religious awareness has started to regain a relevance it had lost among Europeans. It is not that it had disappeared from European societies, but rather that it existed at a discreet secondary level. However, Europe is less secular and more post-secular than many would like to admit. The liberal model of freedom of conscience, it is, the separation between justice, the norms of political and institutional coexistence, and the whole model of toleration is being questioned from (...)
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  28. Elena Beltrán (1997). Liberalismo político Y educación: Un Marco teórico. Daímon 15:119-134.
    This article proposes a reconstruction of the role that education plays in John Rawls Political Liberalism. Rawls does not pay any specific attention to the problems that education, the need for a liberal society of teaching children, the new citizens, puts on his theory. Nevertheless, openly accepts the importance of this point for the way he understands liberalism. In this work the foundations of Rawlsian political liberalism are taken as a point of departure for the analysis of the most important (...)
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  29. C. Bertram (2003). DAVION, V. And WOLF, C.(Eds.)-The Idea of Political Liberalism: Essays on Rawls. Philosophical Books 44 (1):81-82.
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  30. Thomas M. Besch (2013). On Political Legitimacy, Reasonableness, and Perfectionism. Public Reason 5 (1):58-74.
    The paper advances a non-orthodox reading of political liberalism’s view of political legitimacy, the view of public political justification that comes with it, and the idea of the reasonable at the heart of these views. Political liberalism entails that full discursive standing should be accorded only to people who are reasonable in a substantive sense. As the paper argues, this renders political liberalism dogmatic and exclusivist at the level of arguments for or against normative theories of justice. Against that background, (...)
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  31. Thomas M. Besch (2012). Political Liberalism, the Internal Conception, and the Problem of Public Dogma. Philosophy and Public Issues 2 (1):153-177.
    According to the “internal” conception (Quong), political liberalism aims to be publicly justifiable only to people who are reasonable in a special sense specified and advocated by political liberalism itself. One advantage of the internal conception allegedly is that it enables liberalism to avoid perfectionism. The paper takes issue with this view. It argues that once the internal conception is duly pitched at its fundamental, metatheoretical level and placed in its proper discursive context, it emerges that it comes at the (...)
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  32. Thomas M. Besch (2004). On Practical Constructivism and Reasonableness. Dissertation, University of Oxford
    The dissertation defends that the often-assumed link between constructivism and universalism builds on non-constructivist, perfectionist grounds. To this end, I argue that an exemplary form of universalist constructivism – i.e., O’Neill’s Kantian constructivism – can defend its universalist commitments against an influential particularist form of constructivism – i.e., political liberalism as advanced by Rawls, Macedo, and Larmore – only if it invokes a perfectionist view of the good. (En route, I show why political liberalism is a form of particularism and (...)
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  33. Thomas M. Besch (1998). Über John Rawls' Politischen Liberalismus. Peter Lang.
    (In German.) The book addresses Rawls's post-1985 political liberalism. His justification of political liberalism -- as reflected in his arguments from overlapping consensus -- faces the problem that liberal content can be justified as reciprocally acceptable only if the addressees of such a justification already endorse points of view that suitably support liberal ideas. Rawls responds to this legitimacy-theoretical problem by restricting public justification's scope to include reasonable people only, while implicitly defining reasonableness as a substantive liberal virtue. But this (...)
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  34. Justin B. Biddle (2009). Advocates or Unencumbered Selves? On the Role of Mill's Political Liberalism in Longino's Contextual Empiricism. Philosophy of Science 76 (5):612-623.
    Helen Longino’s “contextual empiricism” is one of the most sophisticated recent attempts to defend a social theory of science. On this view, objectivity and epistemic acceptability require that research be produced within communities that approximate a Millian marketplace of ideas. I argue, however, that Longino’s embedding of her epistemology within the framework of Mill’s political liberalism implies a conception of individual epistemic agents that is incompatible with her view that scientific knowledge is necessarily social, and I begin to articulate an (...)
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  35. Mehmet Fevzi Bilgin (2007). The Prospects for Political Liberalism in Non-Western Societies. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 10 (3):359-376.
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  36. James Boettcher (2009). Habermas, Religion and the Ethics of Citizenship. Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (1-2):215-238.
    A recent essay by Jürgen Habermas revisits political liberalism and takes up the question of the extent to which democratic citizens and officials should rely on their religious convictions in publicly deliberating about and deciding political issues. With his institutional translation proviso, a proposed alternative to Rawls' idea of public reason, Habermas hopes to dodge familiar (and often overstated) criticisms that liberal requirements of citizenship are unfair or disproportionately burdensome to religious believers. I argue that, due in part to its (...)
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  37. James Boettcher (2007). Respect, Recognition, and Public Reason. Social Theory and Practice 33 (2):223-249.
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  38. James Boettcher (2004). What is Reasonableness? Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (5-6):597-621.
    The concept of reasonableness is essential to John Rawls’s political liberalism, and especially to its main ideas of public reason and liberal legitimacy. Yet the somewhat ambiguous account of reasonableness in Political Liberalism has led to concerns that the Rawlsian distinction between the reasonable and the unreasonable is arbitrary and ultimately indefensible. This paper attempts to advance a more convincing interpretation of reasonableness. I argue that the reasonable applies first to citizens, who then play an important role in determining which (...)
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  39. James Bohman (1995). Public Reason and Cultural Pluralism: Political Liberalism and the Problem of Moral Conflict. Political Theory 23 (2):253-279.
  40. Matteo Bonotti (forthcoming). Political Liberalism, Free Speech and Public Reason. European Journal of Political Theory:1474885114538257.
    In this paper, I critically assess John Rawls's repeated claim that the duty of civility is only a moral duty and should not be enforced by law. In the first part of the paper, I examine and reject the view that Rawls's position may be due to the practical difficulties that the legal enforcement of the duty of civility might entail. I thus claim that Rawls's position must be driven by deeper normative reasons grounded in a conception of free speech. (...)
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  41. Matteo Bonotti (2012). Beyond Establishment and Separation: Political Liberalism, Religion and Democracy. Res Publica 18 (4):333-349.
    Does John Rawls’s political liberalism require the institutional separation between state and religion or does it allow space for moderate forms of religious establishment? In this paper I address this question by presenting and critically evaluating Cécile Laborde’s recent claim that political liberalism is ‘inconclusive about the public place of religion’ and ‘indeterminate about the symbolic dimensions of the public place of religion’. In response to Cécile Laborde, I argue that neither moderate separation nor moderate establishment, intended as regimes of (...)
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  42. Matteo Bonotti (2011). Religious Political Parties and the Limits of Political Liberalism. Res Publica 17 (2):107-123.
    Political parties have only recently become a subject of investigation in political theory. In this paper I analyse religious political parties in the context of John Rawls’s political liberalism. Rawlsian political liberalism, I argue, overly constrains the scope of democratic political contestation and especially for the kind of contestation channelled by parties. This restriction imposed upon political contestation risks undermining democracy and the development of the kind of democratic ethos that political liberalism cherishes. In this paper I therefore aim to (...)
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  43. Antoon Braeckman (1994). Political Liberalism: Rawls' Herijking van A Theory of Justice. de Uil van Minerva 11 (1):55-67.
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  44. Elizabeth Brake (2010). Minimal Marriage: What Political Liberalism Implies for Marriage Law. Ethics 120 (2):302-337.
    Recent defenses of same-sex marriage and polygamy have invoked the liberal doctrines of neutrality and public reason. Such reasoning is generally sound but does not go far enough. This paper traces the full implications of political liberalism for marriage. I argue that the constraints of public reason, applied to marriage law, entail ‘minimal marriage’, the most extensive set of state-determined restrictions on marriage compatible with political liberalism. Minimal marriage sets no principled restrictions on the sex or number of spouses and (...)
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  45. Jason Brennan & John Tomasi (2012). Classical Liberalism. In David Estlund (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy. Oxford University Press, Usa. 115.
  46. P. M. Brennan (1998). Political Liberalism's Tertium Quiddity: Neutral "Public Reason". American Journal of Jurisprudence 43 (1):239-251.
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  47. Samantha J. Brennan (2007). Challenging Liberalism: Feminism as Political Critique (Review). Hypatia 23 (1):220-223.
  48. Samantha Brennan, Claudia Card, Bernard Dauenhauer, Marilyn A. Friedman, Dale Jamieson, Richard Arneson, Clark Wolf, Robert Nagle, James Nickel, Christoph Fehige & Norman Daniels (2000). The Idea of a Political Liberalism: Essays on Rawls. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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  49. Corey Brettschneider (2007). The Politics of the Personal: A Liberal Approach. American Political Science Review 101 (1):19-31.
    Feminist thinkers have long criticized liberal theory’s public/private distinction for perpetuating indifference to injustices within the family. Thinkers such as Susan Okin have extended this criticism in evaluating the theory of political liberalism, suggesting that this theory’s reliance on a public conception of citizenship renders it indifferent to the way in which the internal politics of the family can undermine equality.However, I argue in this article that the feminist concern to ensure equality within the domestic sphere can in fact be (...)
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  50. Harry Brighouse (1994). Is There Any Such Thing as Political Liberalism? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 75 (3-4):318-332.
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