I am not sure who said that liberalism merely alternates between ethics and economics – was it Karl Kraus? – but at first glance the claim is plausible. In this paper I argue that there are varieties of liberalism which do not. Some depend on a nature-culture distinction and some appeal to simplicity in a way that seems aesthetic. In the appendix I introduce a problem for utilitarianism.
This paper presents a more holistic variety of liberalism than the Rawlsian kind, which involves judging that various things are not properly liberal, things which the Rawlsian would seek to avoid conflict with, e.g. “This is not liberal poetry,” “This is not liberal computer programming.” Such judgments seem to be based on an emotional, or aesthetic, sense of coherence.
Jonathan Quong classifies varieties of liberalism based on two yes-or-no questions. I show that there is a kind of perfectionist liberalism that cannot be located on his map. I call it backdoor liberal perfectionism.
Public reason liberalism (PRL), grounded in the deliberative democratic tradition, has been widely recognized as a kind of political deliberation, confined by a socially-established set of rules that govern an individual’s actions, that leads to the emergence of collectively-held valid norms. Despite its widespread adoption within liberal democratic theory, the concept of PRL has not gone without criticism and controversy. Kevin Vallier's influential work, Public Justification versus Public Deliberation: The Case for Divorce, offers a trenchant critique of the deliberative constraints (...) implicit in dominant conceptions of PRL. Vallier contends that liberals should focus less on regulating the behaviour of individual citizens within the public sphere, and more on regulating the reach of public officials, through what he calls the 'Principle of Convergent Restraint' (PCR). The PCR is a tripartite framework that governs the conditions under which coercive legislation may be justified in a liberal democracy. The PCR, according to Vallier, represents the optimal approach for formulating justificatory reasons for such laws, while concurrently upholding the tenets of liberty and diversity. I disagree with this assessment. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is not to endorse or rebuke PRL, but rather to identify, systematically, Vallier’s misinterpretations of PRL and the contradictions inherent in his conception of the PCR. (shrink)
Liberalism has a complicated and sometimes uneasy relationship with truth. On one hand, liberalism requires that truth be widely valued and widely shared. It demands that governments be truthful and that citizens have ready access to numerous truths. Some liberals even take facilitating the discovery and dissemination of truth to be part of the raison d’être of liberal institutions. On the other hand, liberalism is averse to proclaiming or enforcing truth. It detaches truth from political legitimacy and deems certain truths (...) unfit to serve as bases of government. Some liberals have even suggested that liberal theory must work “without the concept of truth.” How has liberalism come to both demand truth and eschew it? This introductory section provides the beginnings of an answer by surveying some of the origins and core elements of liberal thought. (shrink)
Migration und Armut sind eng miteinander verbunden. Für die meisten Migrant*innen ist Armut der Grund, ihre Heimat zu verlassen, um anderswo ein günstigeres wirtschaftliches Umfeld zu finden. Der Internationalen Organisation für Migration zufolge lag die Zahl der sogenannten Arbeitsmigrant*innen im Jahr 2015 weltweit bei 150,3 Millionen, bei einer Gesamtzahl von 247,6 Millionen Migrant* innen. Diese Zahlen erfassen Migrant* innen mit offizieller Arbeitserlaubnis und es ist anzunehmen, dass die Zahl von Arbeitsmigrant*innen ohne legale Dokumente deutlich höher ist.
In her book, Socially Undocumented: Identity and Immigration Justice, Amy Reed-Sandoval discloses and criticizes a kind of oppression that is uniquely suffered by a group she identifies as "socially undocumented." The problem with her account is not with the identification of this group nor in her conclusions or recommendations, but in taking an overly constrained version of liberalism as her starting point. This non-radical version of liberalism does not have the necessary resources to properly recognize as unjust the kind of (...) oppression that Reed-Sandoval is most concerned with. I therefore argue in this essay that in order to properly recognize this kind of oppression as unjust, one must either subscribe to a “Goldilocks” version of liberalism or rely on a political theory that gets beyond liberalism. (shrink)
Estados Unidos y el mundo están en proceso de colapso por el crecimiento excesivo de la población, la mayor parte del siglo pasado, y ahora todo, debido a la gente del tercer mundo. El consumo de recursos y la adición de 4.000 millones más alrededor de 2100 colapsarán la civilización industrial y provocarán hambre, enfermedades, violencia y guerra a una escala asombrosa. La tierra pierde al menos el 1% de su suelo superior cada año, por lo que a medida que (...) se acerca a 2100, la mayor parte de su capacidad de cultivo de alimentos desaparecerá. Miles de millones morirán y la guerra nuclear es muy segura. En Estados Unidos, esto está siendo enormemente acelerado por la inmigración masiva y la reproducción de inmigrantes, combinado con los abusos que hacen posible la democracia. La depravada naturaleza humana convierte inexorablemente el sueño de la democracia y la diversidad en una pesadilla del crimen y la pobreza. China seguirá abrumando a Estados Unidos y al mundo, mientras mantenga la dictadura que limita el egoísmo. La causa fundamental del colapso es la incapacidad de nuestra psicología innata para adaptarse al mundo moderno, lo que lleva a las personas a tratar a personas no relacionadas como si tuvieran intereses comunes. La idea de los derechos humanos es una fantasía maligna promovida por los izquecenas para alejar la atención de la destrucción despiadada de la tierra por la maternidad del tercer mundo sin restricciones. Esto, además de la ignorancia de la biología básica y la psicología, conduce a los delirios de ingeniería social de los parcialmente educados que controlan las sociedades democráticas. Pocos entienden que si ayudas a una persona, dañas a otra persona, no hay almuerzo gratis y cada artículo que alguien consume destruye la tierra más allá de la reparación. En consecuencia, las políticas sociales en todas partes son insostenibles y una a una todas las sociedades sin estrictos controles sobre el egoísmo se derrumbarán en anarquía o dictadura. Los hechos más básicos, casi nunca mencionados, son que no hay suficientes recursos en Estados Unidos o en el mundo para sacar a un porcentaje significativo de los pobres de la pobreza y mantenerlos allí. El intento de hacer esto es la bancarrota de Estados Unidos y la destrucción del mundo. La capacidad de la tierra para producir alimentos disminuye diariamente, al igual que nuestra calidad genética. Y ahora, como siempre, el mayor enemigo de los pobres es otro pobre y no los ricos. Sin cambios dramáticos e inmediatos, no hay esperanza de impedir el colapso de Estados Unidos, ni de ningún país que siga un sistema democrático. (shrink)
Public spaces are often sites of contention between competing conceptions of the good life. The potential for such conflicts increases in diverse societies where different ethnic, religious and cultural groups compete for space and representation in the public sphere. A paradigmatic example is the conflict between multiculturalism and conservatism towards the function and character of public spaces. A clear criterion is necessarily, in such conflicts, to determine which conception may be legitimately crowded-out, and which may prevail. The paper examines two (...) strategies to justify such a criterion: a liberal approach and a perfectionist approach. According to the liberal approach, public spaces should reflect the pluralism of values in society, by combining multiplicity and coherence of values. Yet pluralism is too ambiguous a concept to determine, in practice, which conceptions of the good can legitimately be crowded-out, both physically and metaphorically, from the public sphere. Perfectionism, an ethical approach grounded in human developmentalism, holds that the good life is a life of developing and exercising our human capacities. This approach yields a substantive account of public space regulation: public spaces should promote the development and exercise of our human capacities. On this account, we can approach the conflict between competing claims on public spaces by asking whether crowding-out might harm the potential development and exercise of our capacities. The perfectionist approach also provides a finer distinction between different types of conservatisms, such that we may differentiate between conservatism that may be legitimately crowded-out from the spatial sphere, and conservatism which may prevail. This paper argues that a perfectionist approach—one which is explicitly committed to a view of the good life—is both necessary and timely. (shrink)
This paper explains how the practice of ‘no platforming’ can be reconciled with a liberal politics. While opponents say that no platforming flouts ideals of open public discourse, and defenders see it as a justifiable harm-prevention measure, both sides mistakenly treat the debate like a run-of-the-mill free speech conflict, rather than an issue of academic freedom specifically. Content-based restrictions on speech in universities are ubiquitous. And this is no affront to a liberal conception of academic freedom, whose purpose isn’t just (...) to protect the speech of academics, but also to give them the prerogative to determine which views and speakers have sufficient disciplinary credentials to receive a hearing in academic contexts. No platforming should therefore be acceptable to liberals, in principle, in cases where it is used to support a university culture that maintains rigorous disciplinary standards, by denying attention and credibility to speakers without appropriate disciplinary credentials. (shrink)
Liberalism, historically, is closely associated with increased toleration, so it is unsurprising that a variety of contemporary authors (Hampton, Kukathas, Barry, Ten) consider toleration to be “the substantive heart of liberalism” (Hampton 1989, 802). The precise role of toleration in liberalism, though, is unclear; different liberals have different views. In this essay, I will discuss three sorts of liberal theories and indicate how they approach questions of toleration, arguing that one of them supports toleration of more sorts of activities (including (...) speech acts and lifestyles) than the others. While I think this is reason to favor that sort of theory, I will not defend that claim. Some reasonably think (and defend the view) that though toleration is of value, its limits should be drawn more narrowly. (shrink)
Liberal democracies deal poorly with states of emergency because they underestimate the corrosive effect of arbitrary coercion on established liberal democratic values. Far from protecting the rights of citizens, arbitrary emergency measures undermine citizens’ rights.
The article provides a focused overview of the recent debates in political philosophy on the role of religious arguments (as reasons for action) in liberal democracy, as well as a preliminary defence of a particular approach to the issue. Drawing on Christopher Eberle’s typology, we distinguish three main camps – Justificatory Liberalism, basing its advocacy of a “doctrine of religious restraint” on Rawls’s account of public justification; its Liberal Critics, embracing a wholly permissive position vis-à-vis religious arguments in the public (...) sphere; and New Traditionalism, which assigns priority to the religious rationale. The article deals in more detail with the exchange between the first two camps. Upon considering their strengths and weaknesses, we argue for a more robust “third way” between exclusion from and unqualified inclusion of religious arguments in public debates in liberal democracy. Inspired by the work of Gerald Gaus and Kevin Vallier, we the outline in the closing sections a framework of such “minimal justificatory liberalism” that steers clear of several errors shared by both the defenders and the critics of justificatory liberalism. (shrink)
I examine an objection against autonomy-minded liberalism sometimes made by philosophers such as John Rawls and William Galston, that it rules out ways of life which do not themselves value freedom or autonomy. This objection is incorrect, because one need not value autonomy in order to live an autonomous life. Hence autonomy-minded liberalism need not rule out such ways of life. I suggest a modified objection which does work, namely that autonomy-minded liberalism must rule out ways of life that could (...) not develop under an autonomy-promoting education. I conclude by suggesting some reasons why autonomy-minded liberals should bite the bullet and accept this. (shrink)
The principle of government neutrality, as commonly understood, enshrines the idea that government bodies ought to treat all citizens equally. I argue that the traditional interpretation of this principle in liberal constitutionalism has involved a prohibition against legal actors distinguishing between subjects on the basis of their personal characteristics. This approach is unsatisfactory, as it constrains the law's ability to respond to evolved social practices of discrimination. To illustrate this point, I draw on the writings of Jean-François Lyotard and recent (...) judicial decisions on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. (shrink)
(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 (...) virtue-ethical grounding of political liberalism is itself unreasonable. The phenomenon of disharmony of practical reason gives the reasonable reasons to take it that political legitimacy does not obtain if and where moral-political principles are acceptable from their point of view only. (shrink)
I reconstruct the discussion originated with publication of A Theory of Justice in 1971. I argue that criticism and counter-criticism has modified in a remarkable way the original points of view with which both alignments joined the discussion.
The family seems to pose an insoluble dilemma for liberal society, because it pits liberal values of freedom and equality against each another. When family life privileges adult freedom, children's life chances become unequal, due to their parents' different choices and unequal circumstances. But any effort to enact equality of opportunity for children, it seems, would demand such heavy-handed state regulation of the family that it would end family life as we know it. This is an old problem, and theorists (...) who have grappled with it have found themselves caught between two unappealing alternatives: rampant inequality for children, on the one hand, and Brave New World-style institutionalized child-rearing, on the other.This essay revisits the opposition between the family and equality and suggests that there is a way out of the liberal dilemma, at least in principle. The family is compatible with equality of opportunity in theory, although the legal changes necessary to achieve equality would face practical and political difficulties. Politics and administration pose one set of challenges: an egalitarian regime would require new redistributive programs and tax increases to fund them. The law itself poses another challenge: a commitment to children's equality would require revision of constitutional and state-law doctrines that prize parental authority and family economic self-sufficiency and disclaim positive obligations of the state toward children. The aims of this essay are primarily theoretical rather than practical. The analysis here draws on liberal political theory to outline a conception of the "egalitarian family" that can reconcile the liberal values of freedom and equality of opportunity. Outside the United States, legal principles and initiatives such as those developed here might seem relatively familiar. In the U.S. context, however, these reforms would require a thorough revision in legal institutions and in legal principles. (shrink)