The family and political justice – the case for political liberalisms

The Journal of Ethics 4 (3):257-282 (2000)
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This paper examines two central arguments raised byfeminist theorists against the coherence andconsistency of political liberalisms, a recentrecasting of liberal theories of justice. They arguethat due to political liberalisms'' uncritical relianceon a political/personal distinction, they permit theinstitution of the family to take sexist and illiberalforms thus undermining its own aims and politicalproject. Political liberalisms'' tolerance of a widerange of family forms result in two fatalinconsistences. Firstly, it retards or completelyprevents women from developing the necessary politicalsense of self required for citizenship, and secondly,it prevents children from acquiring the requisitepolitical virtues and sense of justice necessary forthe viability and long-term stability of such asociety. In the paper, I argue that despite theirinitial appeal these feminist criticisms are notcompelling. Firstly, they misunderstand what politicalliberalisms mean by unjust family forms, secondly,they trade on a misunderstanding of thepolitical/personal distinction and, finally, they makequestionable empirical claims about the effects of theilliberal family on a viable political conception ofjustice.



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Author's Profile

Stephen De Wijze
University of Manchester

References found in this work

Justice as fairness: Political not metaphysical.John Rawls - 1985 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (3):223-251.
Political liberalisms.Bruce Ackerman - 1994 - Journal of Philosophy 91 (7):364-386.
Political Liberalisms.Bruce Ackerman - 1994 - Journal of Philosophy 91 (7):364.
Family justice and social justice.Sharon A. Lloyd - 1994 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 75 (3-4):353-371.

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