Rawlsian Liberal Pluralism and Political Islam: Friends or Foes?

In Mohammed Hashas (ed.), Pluralism in Islamic Contexts - Ethics, Politics and Modern Challenges. Springer Verlag. pp. 239-253 (2021)
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In this chapter, I argue that there is an important structural similarity between the Liberal Pluralism of John Rawls’ Theory of Justice and Political Islam. This structural similarity, so I argue, showcases an important problem concerning what I call higher-order disagreement – a problem that plagues Rawls’ early version of Liberal Pluralism, a Liberalist understanding of Political Islam, as well as Rawls’ “later” political conception of Liberal Pluralism. I end by suggesting how Medieval Islamic Philosophy may have given us the intellectual resources to solve this issue and towards articulating a “perfectionist” conception of Liberalism that is true to what the later Rawls calls “the fact of reasonable pluralism.” In short, then, it is from Islamic Philosophy where we can find the resources for fixing some of the conceptual problems with pluralism in the Rawlsian tradition.



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Anthony Booth
University of Sussex

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