Reasonable Citizens and Epistemic Peers: A Skeptical Problem for Political Liberalism

Journal of Political Philosophy 26 (4):486-507 (2018)
Authors
Han van Wietmarschen
University College London
Abstract
Political liberalism holds that political decisions should be made on the basis of public considerations, and not on the basis of comprehensive religious, moral, or philosophical views. An important objection to this view is that it presupposes doubt, hesitation, or skepticism about the truth of comprehensive doctrines on the side of reasonable citizens. Proponents of political liberalism, such as John Rawls and Jonathan Quong, successfully defend political liberalism against several objections of this kind. In this paper, I argue that recent developments in the epistemology of disagreement require us to revisit these skeptical concerns. I will argue that the correct understanding of political liberalism’s epistemic commitments, in combination with a conciliatory view about peer disagreement, lead to a new skeptical problem for political liberalism. All reasonable citizens who also hold a set of religious, moral, or philosophical beliefs, I will argue, suffer from a breakdown of epistemic rationality. I will show that existing answers to skeptical objections fail to resolve this problem.
Keywords Political Liberalism  Public Reason  Peer Disagreement  Toleration  Reasonableness  Skepticism  Epistemic Peers
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DOI 10.1111/jopp.12152
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Epistemology of Disagreement: The Good News.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.
Reflection and Disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.

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