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 politicalliberalism 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 politicalliberalism more flexible. (shrink)
John Rawls’s politicalliberalism and its ideal of public reason are tremendously influential in contemporary political philosophy and in constitutional law as well. Many, perhaps even most, liberals are Rawlsians of one stripe or another. This is problematic, because most liberals also support the redefinition of civil marriage to include same-sex unions, and as I show, Rawls’s politicalliberalism actually prohibits same- sex marriage. Recently in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, however, California’s northern federal district court reinterpreted (...) the traditional rational basis review in terms of liberal neutrality akin to Rawls’s “public reason,” and overturned Proposition 8 and established same-sex marriage. (This reinterpretation was amplified in the 9th Circuit Court’s decision upholding the district court on appeal in Perry v. Brown.) But on its own grounds Perry should have drawn the opposite conclusion. This is because all the available arguments for recognizing same-sex unions as civil marriages stem from controversial comprehensive doctrines about the good, and this violates the ideal of public reason; yet there remains a publicly reasonable argument for traditional marriage, which I sketch here. In the course of my argument I develop Rawls’s politically liberal account of the family by drawing upon work by J. David Velleman and H. L. A. Hart, and discuss the implications of this account for political theory and constitutional law. (shrink)
According to the “internal” conception (Quong), politicalliberalism aims to be publicly justifiable only to people who are reasonable in a special sense specified and advocated by politicalliberalism 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 cost of public dogma. The paper examines this problem and argues that a plausible response to this problem is to go beyond the internal conception and adopt a more inclusive, dynamic conception. But this calls for a form of perfectionism. Thus, the internal conception of politicalliberalism, far from showing how liberalism can be had without perfectionism, effectively calls for perfectionism as a remedy for its problems. (shrink)
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 politicalliberalism. Rawlsian politicalliberalism, 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 (...) class='Hi'>politicalliberalism cherishes. In this paper I therefore aim to provide a broader and more inclusive understanding of ‘reasonable’ political contestation, able to accommodate those parties (including religious ones) that politicalliberalism, as customarily understood, would exclude from the democratic realm. More specifically, I first embrace Muirhead and Rosenblum’s (Perspectives on Politics 4: 99–108 2006) idea that parties are ‘bilingual’ links between state and civil society and I draw its normative implications for party politics. Subsequently, I assess whether Rawls’s politicalliberalism is sufficiently inclusive to allow the presence of parties conveying religious and other comprehensive values. Due to Rawls’s thick conceptions of reasonableness and public reason, I argue, politicalliberalism risks seriously limiting the number and kinds of comprehensive values which may be channelled by political parties into the public political realm, and this may render it particularly inhospitable to religious political parties. Nevertheless, I claim, Rawls’s theory does offer some scope for reinterpreting the concepts of reasonableness and public reason in a thinner and less restrictive sense and this may render it more inclusive towards religious partisanship. (shrink)
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 reasonably interpreted and from their comprehensive doctrine, not from politicalliberalism. Normative standards for peoples appear in a law of peoples in two places: as internal constraints carried forward from politicalliberalism which regulate domestic affairs and as principles derived from a second original position that provide the normative ground for a society of peoples. This first source of normative standards was unfortunately obscured in Rawls' account. I use this model to defeat the claim that Rawls has accommodated decent peoples without sufficient warrant and to argue that all reasonable citizens of both liberal and decent peoples would accept the political authority of the state as legitimate. Although my reconstruction differs from Rawls on key points, such as modifying the idea of decency and rejecting a place for decent peoples within a second original position, overall I defend the theoretical completeness of politicalliberalism and show how a law of peoples provides reasonable principles of international justice. (shrink)
In PoliticalLiberalism, Rawls emphasizes the practical character and aims of his conception of justice. Justice as fairness is to provide the basis of a reasoned, informed and willing political agreement by locating grounds for consensus in the fundamental ideas and values of the political culture. Critics urge, however, that such a politically liberal conception of justice will be designed merely to ensure the stability of political institutions by appealing to the currently-held opinions of actual (...) citizens. In order to evaluate this concern, I suggest, it is necessary to focus on the normative character of Rawls's analysis. Rawls argues that justice as fairness is the conception of justice that citizens of modern democratic cultures should choose in reflective equilibrium, after reflecting fully upon their considered judgments regarding justice. Since judgments in reflective equilibrium are grounded in considered judgment, rather than situated opinions, I argue that the criticism fails. Key Words: justification objectivity politicalliberalism Rawls reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
Three interlocking features appear to underpin Rawlss justification of political compliance within the context of politicalliberalism: namely, a specific territory; a specific society; and a specific conception of what it is to be reasonable. When any one feature is subject to critical examination, while presupposing that the other two are acceptable, Rawlss argument for political compliance may seem persuasive. But when all three features are critically examined together, his justification of political compliance within (...) class='Hi'>politicalliberalism can be seen to lack cogency. Thus, political compliance fails to be justified by a free-standing politicalliberalism. Key Words: philosophical anarchism political duties politicalliberalism political obligation Rawls. (shrink)
Timothy Michael Fowler has argued that, as a consequence of their commitment to neutrality in regard to comprehensive doctrines, political liberals face a dilemma. In essence, the dilemma for political liberals is that either they have to give up their commitment to neutrality (which is an indispensible part of their view), or they have to allow harm to children. Fowler’s case for this dilemma depends on ascribing to political liberals a view which grants parents a great degree (...) of freedom in deciding on the education of their children. I show that ascribing this view to political liberals rests upon a misinterpretation of politicalliberalism. Since political liberals have access to reasons based upon the interests of children, they need not yield to parent’s wishes about the education of their children. A correct understanding of politicalliberalism thus shows that political liberals do not face the dilemma envisaged by Fowler. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Rawlsians have largely misunderstood the idea of an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines, thereby failing to delineate in an appropriate way the place of comprehensive doctrines in politicalliberalism. My argument rests on two core claims. The first claim is that (i) politicalliberalism is committed to three theses about the overlapping consensus. The first thesis concerns the subject of the overlapping consensus; the second thesis concerns the function of (...) the overlapping consensus; the third thesis explains how the overlapping consensus can serve its function in accordance with politicalliberalism’s commitment to epistemic neutrality. The second claim on which my argument relies is empirical: (ii) Rawlsians typically deny at least one of the three theses to which politicalliberalism is committed. Based on (i) and (ii), I conclude that Rawlsians have hitherto provided unconvincing accounts of the place of comprehensive doctrines in politicalliberalism. (shrink)
Some religiously devout individuals believe divine command can override an obligation to obey the law where the two are in conflict. At the extreme, some individuals believe that acts of violence that seek to change or punish a political community, or to prevent others from violating what they take to be God’s law, are morally justified. In the face of this apparent clash between religious and political commitments it might seem that modern versions of political morality—such as (...) John Rawls’s politicalliberalism—that refuse to take a stance on controversial religious matters, or eschew appeal to perfectionist doctrines, are beset by a particularly acute version of this problem of religious disobedience. Whilst politicalliberalism follows this path so as to generate wide and stable support, it raises the question of how political liberals should respond to religiously motivated non-compliance with the norms of that liberal conception of justice. This article evaluates what resources are available to politicalliberalism to respond to this challenge. It examines whether anti-perfectionism can be sustained in the face of those whose religious beliefs are in conflict with the law. We argue that, under certain circumstances, politicalliberalism requires direct engagement with the religious views of the unreasonable, including offering religious arguments to show that their particular interpretation of their faith is mistaken. This view takes politicalliberalism away from its usual ambitions, but it is a position that is both anticipated by Rawls and consistent with his view. It does, however, require that political liberals give up the claim that the view is a wholly non-sectarian, purely political view, and accept that, under certain circumstances it is a partially comprehensive version of liberal theory. (shrink)
Does John Rawls’s politicalliberalism 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 politicalliberalism 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 religious governance that fix specific interpretations of principles of social and economic justice, are compatible with Rawls’s politicalliberalism. Furthermore, I claim that a state can ensure that both its religious and non-religious citizens enjoy a sense of self-respect and identification with their polity by leaving issues of symbolic establishment and separation open to democratic debate. I conclude that Rawls’s politicalliberalism transcends the standard distinction between moderate establishment and moderate separation and leaves the public place of religion open to the democratic contestation of ordinary legislative politics. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with Rawls's (1993) account of an overlapping consensus and recent proposals to introduce citizenship education in parts of the UK. It is argued that both Rawls and the proposals mistake the significance and nature of such a consensus. Partly as a result of this mistake the proposals are insufficiently radical.
In this article, it is argued that a significant internal tension exists in John Rawls' politicalliberalism. He holds the following positions that might plausibly be considered incongruous: (1) a commitment to tolerating a broad right of freedom of political speech, including a right of subversive advocacy; (2) a commitment to restricting this broad right if it is intended to incite and likely to bring about imminent violence; and (3) a commitment to curbing this broad right only (...) if there is a constitutional crisis. By supporting a broad right of freedom of political speech in PoliticalLiberalism, he allows militant intolerant people such as Jihadists, White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis to advocate publicly their dangerously intolerant beliefs. Public advocacy of dangerously intolerant beliefs can be construed as subversive advocacy. As demonstrated by the historical examples of the Weimar Republic and the Second Spanish Republic, militant intolerant groups could use a right of subversive advocacy to threaten the stability of liberal democracies. Hence, by allowing them to exercise a broad right of freedom of political speech, Rawls could jeopardize that which he intends to defend, namely the actual political stability of a liberal democratic order. Lastly, Rawls' conception of ideal constitutional interpretation, which privileges a broad right of freedom of political speech, might be insufficient to deal effectively with the threat posed by militant intolerant groups. Yet a tradition of American constitutional interpretation that balances freedom of speech with other important constitutional and/or political values has overcome a civil war, two world wars, the Cold War and the 9/11 terrorist attacks without abandoning democracy or permanently renouncing those values. Still, Rawls' ideal approach to constitutional interpretation might, in hindsight, help us to understand some of the excesses and deficiencies of American jurisprudence in times of emergency.
Post-foundational politics and democracy -- Agonism and democracy -- A typology of agonistic democracy -- Agonistic democracy and the question of institutions -- Agonistic democracy and the limits of popular participation -- Populism, representation, and the popular will -- Politicalliberalism, contingency and agonistic pluralism -- Liberalism, agonism, and democracy.
Public justification-based accounts of liberal legitimacy rely on the idea that a polity’s basic structure should, in some sense, be acceptable to its citizens. In this paper I discuss the prospects of that approach through the lens of Gerald Gaus’ critique of John Rawls’ paradigmatic account of democratic public justification. I argue that Gaus does succeed in pointing out some significant problems for Rawls’ politicalliberalism; yet his alternative, justificatory liberalism, is not voluntaristic enough to satisfy the (...) desiderata of a genuinely democratic theory of public justification. So I contend that—pace Gaus, but also Rawls—rather than simply amending politicalliberalism, the claims of justificatory liberalism bring out fatal tensions between the desiderata of any theory of liberal-democratic legitimacy through public justification. (shrink)
This book continues and revises the ideas of justice as fairness that John Rawls presented in A Theory of Justice but changes its philosophical interpretation in a fundamental way. That previous work assumed what Rawls calls a "well-ordered society," one that is stable and relatively homogenous in its basic moral beliefs and in which there is broad agreement about what constitutes the good life. Yet in modern democratic society a plurality of incompatible and irreconcilable doctrines -- religious, philosophical, and moral (...) -- coexist within the framework of democratic institutions. Recognizing this as a permanent condition of democracy, Rawls asks how a stable and just society of free and equal citizens can live in concord when divided by reasonable but incompatible doctrines? This edition includes the essay "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited," which outlines Rawls' plans to revise PoliticalLiberalism, which were cut short by his death. "An extraordinary well-reasoned commentary on A Theory of Justice...a decisive turn towards political philosophy." -- Times Literary Supplement. (shrink)
This essay considers the tension between politicalliberalism and gender equality in the light of social construction and multiculturalism. The tension is exemplified by the work of Martha Nussbaum, who tries to reconcile a belief in the universality of certain liberal values such as gender equality with a political liberal tolerance for cultural practices that violate gender equality. The essay distinguishes between first? and second?order conceptions of autonomy, and shows that political liberals mistakenly prioritise second?order autonomy. (...) This prioritisation leads political liberals to seek to limit state interference in individuals' choices. However, the essay argues that if options, choices and the preferences which lead to them are socially influenced or constructed, it is no longer clear that state non?interference secures autonomy. Instead, it becomes a matter of justice what the content of the social or state influence is, which options are open to people, and politicalliberalism cannot deal with many forms of injustice. Rather than emphasising state neutrality, liberals should endorse state prohibition of practices which cause significant harm to those who choose them, if they are chosen only in response to unjust norms. (shrink)
Richard Rorty’s philosophy has two basic commitments: one to postmodernism and the other to liberalism. However, these commitments generate tension. As a postmodernist, he sharply criticizes the Enlightenment; as a liberal, he forcefully defends it. His postmodernist liberalism actually explains liberalism using irrationalism.
Richard Rorty's philosophy has two basic commitments: one to postmodernism and the other to liberalism. However, these commitments generate tension. As a postmodernist, he sharply criticizes the Enlightenment; as a liberal, he forcefully defends it. His postmodernist liberalism actually explains liberalism using irrationalism. /// 罗蒂哲学有两个基本承诺，一个是对后现代主义的承诺，一个是对自由主义 的承诺。但是这两种承诺之间存在着紧张关系: 作为后现代主义者，罗蒂对启蒙提 出了强烈的批评; 作为自由主义者，他又在极力地维护启蒙。罗蒂的后现代自由主 义实质上是以非理性主义来解释自由主义。.
This article outlines the basic tenets of politicalliberalism, 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 politicalliberalism 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, politicalliberalism 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. (shrink)
The later Rawls attempts to offer a non-comprehensive, but nonetheless moral justification in political philosophy. Many critics of politicalliberalism doubt that this is successful, but Rawlsians often complain that such criticisms rely on the unwarranted assumption that one cannot offer a moral justification other than by taking a philosophically comprehensive route. In this article, I internally criticize the justification strategy employed by the later Rawls. I show that he cannot offer us good grounds for the rational (...) hope that citizens will assign political values priority over non-political values in cases of conflict about political matters. I also suggest an alternative approach to justification in political philosophy (that is, a weak realist, Williams-inspired account) that better respects the later Rawls’s concern with non-comprehensiveness and pluralism than either his own view or more comprehensive approaches. Thus, if we take reasonable pluralism seriously, then we should adopt what Shklar aptly called ‘liberalism of fear’. (shrink)
One prominent criticism of John Rawlss The Law of Peoples is that it treats certain non-liberal societies, what Rawls calls decent hierarchical societies, as equal participants in a just international system. Rawls claims that these non-liberal societies should be respected as equals by liberal democratic societies, even though they do not grant their citizens the basic rights of democratic citizenship. This is presented by Rawls as a consequence of liberalisms commitment to the principle of toleration. A number of critics (...) have claimed that Rawlss treatment of these non-liberal societies is symptomatic of a more general problem with politicalliberalism, namely, its reliance on toleration as its fundamental principle. Against this view, I argue that the principle of toleration should not be understood as politicalliberalisms fundamental principle. This is revealed through a consideration of the normative basis of what Rawls calls the Liberal Principle of Legitimacy. A correct understanding of politicalliberalisms fundamental principle, which I claim is a principle of equal civic respect for citizens, shows that Rawlss toleration of non-liberal societies is in fact a misapplication of politicalliberalism to the global domain. Moreover, I explain that politicalliberalism must assert that the principle of equal civic respect for citizens is the correct principle to govern the public political relations of citizens in all pluralist societies, and that most decent hierarchical societies are pluralist in nature. Identifying politicalliberalisms fundamental principle as that of equal civic respect for citizens helps to render politicalliberalism, in both the domestic and international domains, a more coherent and compelling approach to thinking about fundamental political issues. Key Words: civic respect international relations justice politicalliberalism Rawls toleration. (shrink)
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 politicalliberalism 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 politicalliberalism. Minimal marriage sets no principled restrictions on the sex or (...) number of spouses and the nature and purpose of their caring relationships, nor on which marital rights are exchanged, and whether they are exchanged reciprocally or asymmetrically. Minimal marriage supports adult care networks, urban tribes, friendships, and other forms of relationships as well as ‘traditional’ marriages. I provide a publically justifiable rationale for a legal framework supporting non-dependent caring relationships between adults. The argument is that caring relationships are primary goods, and that liberal justice accordingly requires legal frameworks supporting caring relationships. Minimal marriage is one such framework. (shrink)
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 (...) second great book, PoliticalLiberalism. The account of what is wrong with utilitarianism undergoes revision as well. In this essay I examine both the initial critique of utilitarianism and its transformation in Rawls’s later writings. To anticipate my conclusion: Rawls’s proposal that we should maximin rather than maximize leads to an interesting standoff. The argument for maximin is not compelling, but straight additive maximization of the utilitarian sort is revealed to be merely one possible function among many, any of which (for all we know) correct morality might instruct us to maximize. Rawls further urges that utilitarianism goes astray in taking the maximandum, the thing to be maximized, to be utility rather than primary social goods. The argument for primary social goods is not compelling, but it does not follow that utility alone is to be maximized. The espousal of the ideal of legitimacy in PoliticalLiberalism does not affect these conclusions, and the arguments.. (shrink)
Since Rawls's PoliticalLiberalism is by now the subject of a wide and deep philosophical literature, much of it excellent in quality, it would be foolhardy to attempt to say something about each of the major issues of the work, or to sort through debates that can easily be located elsewhere. I have therefore decided to focus on a small number of issues where there is at least some chance that a fresh approach may yield some new understanding (...) of the text: Rawls's distinction between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” comprehensive doctrines; the psychological underpinnings of politicalliberalism; and the possibility that politicalliberalism might be extended beyond the small group of modern Western societies that Rawls's historical remarks suggest as its primary focus. I also include a discussion of the much-debated issue of civility and public reason, which could hardly be avoided given its prominence in the book's reception. This paper should therefore be read not as a comprehensive account of the work but as one person's attempt to grapple, very incompletely and imperfectly, with a book that is as great as any philosophy has seen on this topic of great human urgency. (shrink)
At the core of politicalliberalism is the claim that political institutions must be publicly justified or justifiable to be legitimate. What explains the significance of public justification? The main argument that defenders of politicalliberalism present is an argument from disagreement: the irreducible pluralism that is characteristic of democratic societies requires a mode of justification that lies in between a narrowly political solution based on actual acceptance and a traditional moral solution based on (...) justification from the third-person perspective. But why should we take disagreements seriously? This – epistemic question – has not received the attention it deserves so far. I argue that the significance of public justification can be explained through the possibility of reasonable disagreement. In a reasonable disagreement, the parties hold mutually incompatible beliefs, but each is justified to hold the belief they do. I shall use the notion of a reasonable disagreement to explain the possibility of an irreducible pluralism of moral and religious doctrines and, on that basis, why the justification of political institutions has to be public. (shrink)
This essay argues that neutral paternalism (NP) is problematic for antiperfectionist liberal theories. Section 2 raises textual evidence that Rawlsian liberalism does not oppose and may even support NP. In section 3, I cast doubt on whether NP should have a place in politicalliberalism by defending a partially comprehensive conception of the good I call “moral capacity at each moment,” or MCEM, that is inconsistent with NP. I then explain why MCEM is a reasonable conception on (...) Rawls's account of reasonableness. In section 4, I handle concerns that showing NP fails the test of Rawlsian public justification is a nonstarter since NP does not threaten any of our basic liberties. I sketch an argument that, if this is so, the burden is on politicalliberalism to defend its particular account of basic liberties, since MCEM is reasonable on Rawlsian grounds. More precisely, MCEM is a conception that challenges the way Rawls characterizes basic liberties; that is, his list of basic liberties should be more inclusive by politicalliberalism's own structural commitments, including Rawls's “liberal principle of legitimacy.” On this revised account, politicalliberalism can mount a strong opposition to hard legal paternalism. (shrink)
Under free institutions the exercise of human reason leads to a plurality of reasonable, yet irreconcilable doctrines. Rawls's politicalliberalism is intended as a response to this fundamental feature of modern democratic life. Justifying coercive political power by appeal to any one (or sample) of these doctrines is, Rawls believes, oppressive and illiberal. If we are to achieve unity without oppression, he tells us, we must all affirm a public political conception that is supported by these (...) diverse reasonable doctrines. The first part of this essay argues that the free use of human reason leads to reasonable pluralism over most of what we call the political. Rawls's notion of the political does not avoid the problem of state oppression under conditions of reasonable pluralism. The second part tries to show how justificatory liberalism provides (1) a conception of the political that takes seriously the fact that the free use of human reason leads us to sharply disagree in the domain of the political while (2) articulating a conception of the political according to which the coercive intervention of the state must be justified by public reasons. (shrink)
Politicalliberalism famously requires that fundamental political matters should not be decided by reference to any controversial moral, religious or philosophical doctrines over which reasonable people disagree. This means we, as citizens, must abstain from relying on what we believe to be the whole truth when debating or voting on fundamental political matters. Many critics of politicalliberalism contend that this requirement to abstain from relying on our views about the good life commits (...) class='Hi'>politicalliberalism to a kind of scepticism: we should abstain from relying on our views about the good life because we should be uncertain about the truth of those views. But this kind of scepticism is itself a controversial epistemic position which many reasonable people reject, thus apparently making politicalliberalism internally incoherent. This is the sceptical critique of politicalliberalism. This paper shows the sceptical critique to be false. The paper argues that the epistemic restraint required of citizens in politicalliberalism does not assume or imply any version of scepticism about our ability to know the good life. Liberal neutrality is motivated not by scepticism about our own views, but rather by a desire to justify fundamental political principles to others. (shrink)
Critics of John Rawls' conception of a reasonable pluralism have raised the question of whether it is justified to demand that religious individuals should 'bracket' their essential, identity-constituting convictions when they enter a political discourse. I will argue that the criterion for religious beliefs of being justified as grounds for political decisions should be their ability of being 'translatable' in secular reasons for the very same decisions. This translation would demand 'epistemic abstinence' from religious believers only on the (...) basis of a rigid distinction between the spheres of private opinions and public reasons. To give a more adequate account of the relation between religious beliefs and political reasons in a pluralistic society it seems to be helpful to make use of Niklas Luhmann's functionalistic theory of religion. Key Words: democracy and religious beliefs philosophy of religion pluralism politicalliberalism political theory. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the controversy over the career and thought of Tariq Ramadan. I offer an account of what Western liberals ought to hope for from the thought of such a figure and then show, pace Ramadan's critiques, that his views on European citizenship and social cooperation are largely "reasonable" from the standpoint of politicalliberalism. I also situate Ramadan's views in the context of Islamic law and contemporary Islamist thought on life in the West.
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 politicalliberalism, 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 why the theory can be viewed as a partially specified political conception of environmental pragmatism, and how it relates to public environmental policy and discourse. While the framework is anthropocentric, it is one that reasonable non-anthropocentrists can endorse. Using this theory, I argue that liberal democracies must take measures to secure basic environmental rights for all presently existing and future citizens. Measures must also be in place to secure a minimum of social goods (including environmental goods) that guarantees that all citizens (present and future) can exercise their basic rights and liberties. Moreover, disparities in environmental goods should only be tolerated if they arise in accord with Rawls’s principle of fair equality of opportunity. I discuss carbon taxes, as well as carbon allocation trading schemes. I also argue that free democracies should employ precautionary reasoning when attempting to meet the demands of background environmental justice. (shrink)
The republican project of freedom as non-domination commits the State to endowing citizens with the resources and attitudes necessary to both apprehend domination and abstain from dominating others. This, some have argued, renders it incompatible with politicalliberalism, which eschews the promotion of personal liberal virtues, being derived independently of any 'comprehensive doctrine'. Republican freedom is therefore depicted as penetrating deeper, in its application, into intimate and 'private' spheres. I argue, through a Rousseauist interpretation of Rawls's social contract, (...) that its 'political' stricture need not, however, preclude any socially transformative, emancipatory role. Thus, the promotion of freedom as non-domination is compatible with the 'modelled constraints' of Rawls's original position. Far from transgressing the 'political' limits of State power, the goods associated with non-domination may instead be seen as necessary to the realisation of 'moral personality'—independently of the 'final ends' for which it may be exercised. (shrink)
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 politicalliberalism 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 alternative conception that is better suited to a truly social theory of science. †To contact the author, please write to: School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, 685 Cherry Street, Atlanta, GA 30332‐0345; e‐mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
This paper considers the tension between politicalliberalism and gender equality in the light of social construction and multiculturalism. The tension is exemplified by the work of Martha Nussbaum, who tries to reconcile a belief in the universality of certain liberal values such as gender equality with a political liberal tolerance for cultural practices that violate gender equality. The paper distinguishes between first- and second-order conceptions of autonomy, and shows that political liberals mistakenly prioritise second-order autonomy. (...) This prioritisation leads political liberals to seek to limit state interference in individuals’ choices. However, the paper argues that if options, choices and the preferences which lead to them are socially influenced or constructed, it is no longer clear that state noninterference secures autonomy. Instead, it becomes a matter of justice what the content of the social or state influence is, which options are open to people, and politicalliberalism cannot deal with many forms of injustice. Rather than emphasising state neutrality, liberals should endorse state prohibition of practices which cause significant harm to those who choose them, if they are chosen only in response to unjust norms. (shrink)
The is a brief response to Matthew Bruenig's "Rethinking Noncombatant Immunity." I argue, contra Bruenig, that politicalliberalism does not raise any special problems for the view that non-combatants should not be directly targeted by another country's military.
In this paper we argue that John Rawls’s account of politicalliberalism requires a conception of mutual respect that differs from the one advanced in A Theory of Justice. We formulate such a political liberal form of mutual respect, which we call ‘civic respect.’ We also maintain that core features of politicalliberalism – in particular, the ideas of ‘the burdens of judgment’ and ‘public reason’ – do not commit politicalliberalism to an (...) ideal of personal autonomy, contrary to claims made by various commentators. Furthermore, we maintain that teaching the idea of ‘public reason’ to students in civic education courses does not threaten their ‘ethical integrity.’ On the basis of these points, we maintain – against political and educational theorists like Eamonn Callan and Amy Gutmann – that politicalliberalism permits a wider range of educational policy options, including some ‘school choice’ policies, than most forms of comprehensive liberalism. We conclude the article by considering some such policies. (shrink)
This paper aims to explore an important concept in the work of the later Rawls: the idea of the reasonable. While the concept has its roots in both Aristotle and Kant, Rawls develops a unique account of the reasonable in the light of his theory of politicalliberalism. The paper includes Rawlsian responses to the practical challenges of radical democrats on the one hand, and epistemological challenges to the reasonable on the other. It concludes that Rawls’s account of (...) the reasonable helps to bridge the gap between liberal theory and democratic practice. (shrink)
Susan Okin criticizes John Rawls’s ‘politicalliberalism’ because it does not apply principles of justice directly to gender relations within households. We explain how one can be a ‘political liberal feminist’ by distinguishing between two kinds of justice: the first we call ‘legitimacy justice’, conceptions of which apply to the ‘legally coercive structure’ of society; the second we call ‘ethos justice’, conceptions of which apply to citizens’ ‘non-coercive’ relations. We agree with Okin that a society in which (...) most persons act in accordance with ‘gender equal’ ethos justice is morally superior to one in which most persons do not. A shared commitment to a particular conception of ethos justice, however, cannot be required by a conception of legitimacy justice. A political liberal feminist is committed to promoting gender equality with respect to both legitimacy justice and ethos justice, but recognizes that different means are necessary to do so. (shrink)
Drieu Godefridi’s “Critique de l’utopie libertarienne”1 is not only an attempt to refute Rothbardian anarcholibertarian theory but also an attempt to resurrect the idea of the formal Rechtsstaat.2 I shall say a few words about the first topic and then present some arguments for resisting the introduction of that idea into classical liberal discourse. Contrary to Godefridi’s suggestion, there is no logical or historical ground for considering the Rechtsstaat a necessary or even useful condition of freedom. I do not dispute (...) that the Rechtsstaat was a central concept of the politicalliberalism that for a while held sway in Continental Europe in the nineteenth century, or that in some quarters there is considerable nostalgia for it. What I want to stress is that both in its logical definition and in its historical implementations it failed to support the classical liberal commitment to freedom, property and law. Indeed, it may.. (shrink)
The author argues that the distinctive aspects of politicalliberalism have historical roots in the republican tradition that is often described as “neo-roman,” and recently given articulation in the work of Q. Skinner and P. Pettit. The primary task of this paper will be to layout these correlations, to provide, as it were, a mapping between the vocabulary of the neo-roman theory and that of politicalliberalism. By tracing the genealogy of politicalliberalism, the (...) author argues that we ought to rethink the history, the vocabulary, and conceptual framework of contemporary political philosophy. In particular, seeing politicalliberalism as a form of republican theory as well as a form of liberal theory changes how we understand it: it brings out certain distinctive features of the structure of the view that are often overlooked, such as its stress on certain civic duties and its conception of freedom as a freedom of the city. If leading republican and liberal thinkers turn out to have much in common, then we will have to rethink also our intellectual geography: we will have to sketch in some land-bridges between the continents. (shrink)
Symposium: PoliticalLiberalism vs. Liberal Perfectionism. With a discussion on Jonathan Quong’s Liberalism Without Perfection (OUP 2011) Guest Editor: Michele Bocchiola Submission Deadline Long(1.000 words max): May 15, 2012 Full paper (10.000 words max, upon acceptance): September 15, 2012 Invited Contributors Joseph Chan (University of Hong Kong), Ben Colburn (University of Glasgow), Jerry Gaus (University of Arizona), and Jonathan Quong (University of Manchester).
John Rawls claims that the kind of citizenship education required by politicalliberalism demands ‘far less’ than that required by comprehensive liberalism. Many educational and political theorists who have explored the implications of politicalliberalism for education policy have disputed Rawls's claim. Writing from a comprehensive liberal perspective, Amy Gutmann contends that the justificatory differences between political and comprehensive liberalism generally have no practical significance for citizenship education. Political liberals such as (...) Stephen Macedo and Victoria Costa maintain that politicalliberalism requires a form of citizenship education that is far more demanding than that suggested by Rawls. Gordon Davis and Blain Neufeld, in contrast, defend Rawls's position. These different views have implications for the content of mandatory citizenship education, understanding of the ‘common school ideal,’ and the scope for educational choice within the framework of politicalliberalism. However, the differences between Gutmann, Macedo, and Costa, on the one hand, and Davis and Neufeld, on the other, might be attributable, at least in part, to their different foci. Gutmann, Macedo, and Costa focus on non-ideal theory, specifically the contemporary American context, whereas Davis and Neufeld begin, as does Rawls, within ideal theory, and consider non-ideal circumstances from that perspective. (shrink)
Increasingly many business practitioners and academics are turning to religious sources as a way of approaching and answering difficult questions related to business ethics. There now exists a relatively large literature which attempts to integrate business decisions and religious values. The integration, however, is not without difficulties. For many, religious ethics provides the basis and the ultimate authority for a morally meaningful life. Yet, at the same time, in certain contexts, it is often inappropriate to rely and to publicly justify (...) action on the basis of these ethics. With this difficulty in mind, the main goal of this paper is to answer the following specific question: Is a religiously grounded business ethics consistent with the idea of politicalliberalism? While this question is fundamental and straight-forward, to date it has received little, if any, careful attention. The characterization of business corporations as quasi-public, discussed in the body of the paper, implies that politicalliberalism may dictate that there exist situations in which invoking religious business ethics is inappropriate. The point is that once one removes the assumption of business as a purely private matter, the justification of a religiously grounded ethics in the context of a politically liberal democracy becomes problematic. On the other hand, such an assumption should not be taken to imply that all religiously grounded business ethics are always inappropriate. As this paper demonstrates, it is far from obvious that even government officials need observe a complete separation between religion and state in formulating, justifying, or expressing public policies, even policies leading to so-called coercive results. If so, it follows that managers of quasi-public institutions may, under appropriate and limited circumstances, invoke and rely upon a religious, albeit private, world-view. (shrink)
In her valuable book Hiding from humanity: Disgust, shame and the law, Nussbaum says that she reaches many of the same practical conclusions as Mill. But she argues that Mill’s conceptions of liberty, justice, and respect for rival ideas of the good and for religious belief, are defective, and further that they do not provide as adequate a basis for the form of politicalliberalism she recommends. Actually, the alleged defects in Mill rest largely on misrepresentations, but more (...) importantly, once one understands the central role of Mill’s account of justice in shaping his view of liberty and morality, it becomes clear that he offers a better response to cultural pluralism. His way of relating the morality and the aesthetics of conduct embodies a kind of respect for diversity both deeper and more realistic than that claimed for politicalliberalism. Mill brings a heritage from the Enlightenment in the light of which politicalliberalism looks like a failure of nerve. (shrink)
In her valuable book Hiding from humanity: Disgust, shame and the law, Nussbaum says that she reaches many of the same practical conclusions as Mill. But she argues that Mill’s conceptions of liberty, justice, and respect for rival ideas of the good and for religious belief, are defective, and further that they do not provide as adequate a basis for the form of politicalliberalism she recommends. Actually, the alleged defects in Mill rest largely on misrepresentations, but more (...) importantly, once one understands the central role of Mill’s account of justice in shaping his view of liberty and morality, it becomes clear that he offers a better response to cultural pluralism. His way of relating the morality and the aesthetics of conduct embodies a kind of respect for diversity both deeper and more realistic than that claimed for politicalliberalism. Mill brings a heritage from the Enlightenment in the light of which politicalliberalism looks like a failure of nerve. (shrink) -/- John Stuart Mill in 19th Century Philosophy Justice, Misc in Social and Political Philosophy. (shrink)