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Liberalism after the fall: Schmitt, Rawls and the problem of justification

Philosophy and Social Criticism 22 (3):9-37 (1996)
Carl Schmitt's critique of liberalism portrays liberalism as a supple political ideology, one which moves constantly between the horns of several connected dilemmas. In particular, liberalism cannot decide whether it is based on substantive political values or is neutral or substanceless. John Rawls's 'political liberalism' is argued to exemplify-and to fall prey to-Schmitt's critique. Rawls tries to find a shallow justification for liberalism, one which claims no truth for itself and is thus neutral between many different ideologies. But his justification, as he is forced to admit, presupposes the substantive commitments he wants to avoid. Hence, liberalism has to move beyond Rawls and accept its place within democracy
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