David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Rawls in his later philosophy claims that it is sufficient to accept political conception as true or right, depending on what one's worldview allows, on the basis of whatever reasons one can muster, given one's worldview (doctrine). What political liberalism is interested in is a practical agreement on the political conception and not in our reasons for accepting it. There are deep issues (regarding deep values, purpose of life, metaphysics etc.) which cannot be resolved through invoking common reasons (this is the fact of free reason itself), and trying to resolve them would involve us in interminable debates and would hamper the practical task of agreement on the political conception. Given the absolute necessity of a political society which is stable and enduring, it is thus wise to avoid these issues in founding a political society and choosing its basic principles - this is the pragmatic part of Rawls's position. In this paper I argue that this strategy leads Rawls into a paradox: (i) although the intention is to stay independent of comprehensive doctrines, the political conception is in fact totally (and precariously) dependent on comprehensive doctrines (not just on one doctrine but on each and every major doctrine in society). It is dependent on them: for its conceptualisation as an independent idea, for its justification, for the check of its reasonability in relation to the external world, for the formation of identities and value inculcation and hence for the formation of its model citizen; (ii) the very search for independence makes the political conception more dependent on comprehensive doctrines, and by extension makes it potentially more prone to intervention in and tampering with comprehensive doctrines (it is enough to show that it is a strong conceptual possibility to cast doubt on the whole strategy). Thus, for example, the political conception relies on the hope that “firmly held convictions gradually change” and that it would “in fact . . . have the capacity to shape those doctrines toward itself”. The purpose of the Rawlsian conjecture is to give these “hopes” a concrete, practical form by giving advice to proponents of the comprehensive doctrine on how they can do all this and “try to show them that, despite what they might think, they can still endorse a reasonable political conception”. I further argue that this paradox can be overcome by making the core of political liberalism more flexible.
|Keywords||Political Liberalism John Rawls|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Ali Rizvi (2012). Testing the Limits of Liberalism: A Reverse Conjecture. Heythrop Journal 53 (3):382-404.
Gerald F. Gaus (1999). Reasonable Pluralism and the Domain of the Political: How the Weaknesses of John Rawls's Political Liberalism Can Be Overcome by a Justificatory Liberalism. Inquiry 42 (2):259 – 284.
Steinar Bøyum (2012). Rawls’s Notion of the Political Conception as Educator. European Journal of Political Theory 12 (2):136-152.
Ruth Abbey (2007). Back Toward a Comprehensive Liberalism? Justice as Fairness, Gender, and Families. Political Theory 35 (1):5 - 28.
David Shaw (2011). Justice and the Fetus: Rawls, Children and Abortion. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 20 (1):93-101.
Alan Carter (2006). Political Liberalism and Political Compliance: Part 2 of the Problem of Political Compliance in Rawls’s Theories of Justice. Journal of Moral Philosophy 3 (2):135-157.
Sean Johnston (2010). Conceptions of the Good and the Ubiquity of Power. Social Philosophy Today 26:83-90.
Marianna Papastephanou (2004). The Implicit Assumptions of Dividing a Cake: Political or Comprehensive? [REVIEW] Human Studies 27 (3):307-334.
James W. Boettcher (2003). “Political, Not Metaphysical”. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 77:205-219.
Percy B. Lehning (1998). The Coherence of Rawls's Plea for Democratic Equality. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 1 (4):1-41.
Robert B. Talisse (2008). Toward a Social Epistemic Comprehensive Liberalism. Episteme 5 (1):pp. 106-128.
Enrico Zoffoli (2012). The Place of Comprehensive Doctrines in Political Liberalism: On Some Common Misgivings About the Subject and Function of the Overlapping Consensus. Res Publica 18 (4):351-366.
Robert B. Talisse (2003). Rawls on Pluralism and Stability. Critical Review 15 (1-2):173-194.
Mitchell Avila (2007). Defending a Law of Peoples: Political Liberalism and Decent Peoples. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 11 (1):87 - 124.
William Glod (2010). Political Liberalism, Basic Liberties, and Legal Paternalism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 48 (2):177-196.
Added to index2011-05-13
Total downloads176 ( #6,406 of 1,700,361 )
Recent downloads (6 months)13 ( #50,123 of 1,700,361 )
How can I increase my downloads?