South Africa and the prospect of political liberalism

This article outlines the basic tenets of political liberalism, a recent twist in liberal theories of justice, and distinguishes a ?sufficiency? approach from its more ?egalitarian? rivals. The article argues that a ?sufficiency? principle as the basis for distributing social and material goods, is a logical extension of the commitment to a democratic ideal, one that is required to give substance to political rights guaranteed to all citizens as free and equal members of society. To illustrate the attractiveness of this approach, the paper illustrates how political liberalism offers a compelling way of characterising and interpreting the new South African constitution. As a pluralist society which has until recently been ruled by an unjust regime, political liberalism in general, and the ?sufficiency? version in particular, would offer an effective and inclusive way of addressing what ought to be the paramount concern for all citizens: namely, how to prevent the state's coercive powers from being used by one sectarian group to dominate and repress other groups
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