Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (3):301-330 (2005)

Jonathan Quong
University of Southern California
Reasonable people disagree deeply about the nature of the good life. But reasonable people also disagree fundamentally about principles of justice. If this is true, then why does political liberalism permit the state to act on reasons of justice, but not for reasons grounded in conceptions of the good life? There appears to be an indefensible asymmetry in the way political liberalism treats disagreements about justice and disagreements about the good life. This is the asymmetry objection to political liberalism. The principal aim of this article is to show that the asymmetry objection can be refuted. This is done by drawing a distinction between two different types of reasonable disagreement that can occur between citizens. The first type is foundational disagreement . Disagreements of this type are characterized by the fact that the participants do not share any premises which can serve as a mutually acceptable standard of justification. The second type of disagreement, justificatory disagreement , occurs when participants do share premises that serve as a mutually acceptable standard of justification, but they nevertheless disagree about certain substantive conclusions. Making this distinction allows me to show why political liberalism’s asymmetric treatment of justice and the good life is both defensible and desirable. Key Words: John Rawls • perfectionism • political liberalism • public reason • reasonable pluralism.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/1470594X05056606
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,199
External links

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

Legitimacy, Unanimity, and Perfectionism.Joseph Chan - 2000 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (1):5-42.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Justification, Coercion, and the Place of Public Reason.Chad Van Schoelandt - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):1031-1050.
On Jonathan Quong’s Sectarian Political Liberalism.Kevin Vallier - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (1):175-194.
The Asymmetry Objection to Political Liberalism: Evaluation of a Defence.Terence Rajivan Edward - 2018 - E-Logos Electronic Journal for Philosophy 25 (1):26-32.
Rawls, Reasonableness, and International Toleration.Thomas Porter - 2012 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (4):382-414.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
116 ( #102,061 of 2,518,090 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #408,577 of 2,518,090 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes