A liberal society seeks not to impose a single way of life, but to leave its citizens as free as possible to choose their own values and ends. It therefore must govern by principles of justice that do not presuppose any particular vision of the good life. But can any such principles be found? And if not, what are the consequences for justice as a moral and political ideal? These are the questions Michael Sandel takes up in this penetrating critique (...) of contemporary liberalism. Sandel locates modern liberalism in the tradition of Kant, and focuses on its most influential recent expression in the work of John Rawls. In the most important challenge yet to Rawls' theory of justice, Sandel traces the limits of liberalism to the conception of the person that underlies it, and argues for a deeper understanding of community than liberalism allows. (shrink)
The ‘convergence conception’ of political liberalism has become increasingly popular in recent years. Steven Wall has shown that convergence liberals face a serious dilemma in responding to disagreement about whether laws are publicly justified. What I call the ‘conjunctive approach’ to such disagreement threatens anarchism, while the ‘non-conjunctive’ approach appears to render convergence liberalism internally inconsistent. This paper defends the non-conjunctive approach, which holds that the correct view of public justification should be followed even if some citizens do (...) not consider enacted laws to be publicly justified. My argument sheds light on the fundamental structure of convergence liberalism. (shrink)
In recent years the concepts of individual autonomy and political liberalism have been the subjects of intense debate, but these discussions have occurred largely within separate academic disciplines. Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism contains for the first time new essays devoted to foundational questions regarding both the notion of the autonomous self and the nature and justification of liberalism. Written by leading figures in moral, legal and political theory, the volume covers inter alia the following topics: (...) the nature of the self and its relation to autonomy, the social dimensions of autonomy and the political dynamics of respect and recognition, and the concept of autonomy underlying the principles of liberalism. (shrink)
I argue that John Gray's modus vivendi-based justification for liberalism is preferable to the more orthodox deontological or teleological justificatory strategies, at least because of the way it can deal with the problem of diversity. But then I show how that is not good news for liberalism, for grounding liberal political authority in a modus vivendi undermines liberalism’s aspiration to occupy a privileged normative position vis-à-vis other kinds of regimes. So modus vivendi can save liberalism from (...) moralism, but at cost many liberals will not be prepared to pay. (shrink)
This book continues and revises the ideas of justice as fairness that John Rawls presented in _A Theory of Justice_ but changes its philosophical interpretation in a fundamental way. That previous work assumed what Rawls calls a "well-ordered society," one that is stable and relatively homogenous in its basic moral beliefs and in which there is broad agreement about what constitutes the good life. Yet in modern democratic society a plurality of incompatible and irreconcilable doctrines--religious, philosophical, and moral--coexist within the (...) framework of democratic institutions. Recognizing this as a permanent condition of democracy, Rawls asks how a stable and just society of free and equal citizens can live in concord when divided by reasonable but incompatible doctrines? This edition includes the essay "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited," which outlines Rawls ' plans to revise _Political Liberalism,_ which were cut short by his death. "An extraordinary well-reasoned commentary on _A Theory of Justice_...a decisive turn towards political philosophy." --_Times Literary Supplement_. (shrink)
John Rawls’s political liberalism and its ideal of public reason are tremendously influential in contemporary political philosophy and in constitutional law as well. Many, perhaps even most, liberals are Rawlsians of one stripe or another. This is problematic, because most liberals also support the redefinition of civil marriage to include same-sex unions, and as I show, Rawls’s political liberalism actually prohibits same- sex marriage. Recently in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, however, California’s northern federal district court reinterpreted the traditional rational (...) basis review in terms of liberal neutrality akin to Rawls’s “public reason,” and overturned Proposition 8 and established same-sex marriage. (This reinterpretation was amplified in the 9th Circuit Court’s decision upholding the district court on appeal in Perry v. Brown.) But on its own grounds Perry should have drawn the opposite conclusion. This is because all the available arguments for recognizing same-sex unions as civil marriages stem from controversial comprehensive doctrines about the good, and this violates the ideal of public reason; yet there remains a publicly reasonable argument for traditional marriage, which I sketch here. In the course of my argument I develop Rawls’s politically liberal account of the family by drawing upon work by J. David Velleman and H. L. A. Hart, and discuss the implications of this account for political theory and constitutional law. (shrink)
In Liberalism and Pluralism, Richard Bellamy explores the challenges posed by conflicting values, interests and identities to liberal democracy. Conventional liberal thought is no longer suited to the complex, plural societies of today. By analyzing the three major strands of liberal thought as represented by Hayek, Rawls and Walzer, the author reveals how standard liberalism has tried to circumvent unstable settlements. This book establishes a more satisfactory alternative: namely, negotiated compromise.
According to political liberalism, laws must be justified to all citizens in order to be legitimate. Most political liberals have taken this to mean that laws must be justified by appeal to a specific class of ‘public reasons’, which all citizens can accept. In this paper I defend an alternative, convergence, model of public justification, according to which laws can be justified to different citizens by different reasons, including reasons grounded in their comprehensive doctrines. I consider three objections to (...) such an account—that it undermines sincerity in public reason, that it underestimates the importance of shared values, and that it is insufficiently deliberative—and argue that convergence justifications are resilient to these objections. They should therefore be included within a theory of political liberalism, as a legitimate form of public justification. This has important implications for the obligations that political liberalism places upon citizens in their public deliberations and reason-giving, and might make the theory more attractive to some of its critics, particularly those sympathetic to religious belief. (shrink)
There is a tendency in contemporary jurisprudence to regard political authority and, more particularly, legal intervention in human affairs as having no justification unless it can be defended by what Laing calls the principle of modern liberal autonomy (MLA). According to this principle, if consenting adults want to do something, unless it does specific harm to others here and now, the law has no business intervening. Harm to the self and general harm to society can constitute no justification for legal (...) regulation or prohibition. So pervasive is this understanding of legal intervention in human affairs, that it is common now to encounter arguments in favour of permissive laws on, for example, private drug use, pornography, sexual and reproductive choice, based on the idea that to intervene in these areas would constitute a breach of the liberal ideal. The only alternative to modern liberal autonomy is assumed to be radical oppression, in which the State intervenes in the individual’s life to impose unwarranted measures designed to further its own ends. The legacy of Stalin, Hitler and other modern tyrants has undermined conceptual appeals to the common good. So widespread is this liberal assumption in the Western, English-speaking world that critics of the outlook embodied by MLA are customarily regarded with suspicion and charged with paternalism, narrow-mindedness and intolerance. Laing highlights contradictions inherent in the modern liberal tradition. She argues that there is a certain reliance on the notion of the common good within the natural law tradition that is instructive. According to this view, the common good constitutes a mean between two extremes: on the one hand, contemporary liberalism’s over-insistence on radical individual autonomy and, on the other hand, totalitarianism’s over-emphasis on collective social benefit. There is, I will argue, substantial terrain between the conceptual excesses of modern liberalism and oppressive tyranny that needs to be acknowledged and discussed. (shrink)
This paper defends a distinctly liberal approach to public health ethics and replies to possible objections. In particular, I look at a set of recent proposals aiming to revise and expand liberalism in light of public health's rationale and epidemiological findings. I argue that they fail to provide a sociologically informed version of liberalism. Instead, they rest on an implicit normative premise about the value of health, which I show to be invalid. I then make explicit the unobvious, (...) republican background of these proposals. Finally, I expand on the liberal understanding of freedom as non-interference and show its advantages over the republican alternative of freedom as non-domination within the context of public health. The views of freedom I discuss in the paper do not overlap with the classical distinction between negative and positive freedom. In addition, my account differentiates the concepts of freedom and autonomy and does not rule out substantive accounts of the latter. Nor does it confine political liberalism to an essentially procedural form. (shrink)
Debates between political liberals and liberal perfectionists have been reinvigorated by Jonathan Quong’s Liberalism Without Perfection. In this paper I argue that certain forms of perfectionism can rebut or evade Quong’s three central objections – that perfectionism is manipulative, paternalistic, and illegitimate. I then argue that perfectionists can defend an ‘internal conception’ of perfectionism, parallel in structure to Quong’s ’internal conception’ of political liberalism, but with a different conception of the justificatory constituency. None of Quong’s arguments show that (...) his view should be preferred to this perfectionist internal conception. It can thus equally claim to achieve ‘justification to all reasonable citizens’. (shrink)
The paper advances the deep view of public justification in political liberalism. It contrasts with ideal theory views, including Quong’s variant of an internal conception. I show how the deep view integrates key components of political liberalism’s justification structure, including pro tanto and full justification, political values, reasonableness, neutrality, reasonable comprehensive views, public reasons, the wide view of public political culture, overlapping consensus, political legitimacy, reflective equilibrium and the Original Position. I then contrast the deep view with Quong’s (...) internal conception and suggest that we should prefer the former as a more adequate variant of the internal conception. (shrink)
Agonism is a political theory that places contestation at the heart of politics. Agonistic theorists charge liberal theory with a depoliticization of pluralism through an excessive focus on consensus. This paper examines the agonistic critiques of liberalism from a normative perspective. I argue that by itself the argument from pluralism is not sufficient to support an agonistic account of politics, but points to further normative commitments. Analyzing the work of Mouffe, Honig, Connolly, and Owen, I identify two normative currents (...) of agonistic theory: emancipatory agonism, aimed at challenging violence and exclusion, and perfectionist agonism, aimed at the cultivation of nobility. From a normative perspective the former presents an internal challenge to liberalism, while the latter constitutes an external challenge to liberalism by providing a competing account of the ends of politics. Recognition of the distinction between emancipatory and perfectionist agonism is crucial in assessing the purchase of agonistic critiques of liberalism. Furthermore, this analysis draws us beyond the simple opposition between contestation and consensus. It is not simply a question of valuing genuine pluralism and therefore criticizing consensus; rather the question comes to be: what are the ends of politics? (shrink)
This paper argues for a dilemma: you can accept liberalism or immigration restrictions, but not both. More specifically, the standard arguments for restricting freedom of movement apply equally to textbook liberal freedoms, such as freedom of speech, religion, occupation and reproductive choice. We begin with a sketch of liberalism’s core principles and an argument for why freedom of movement is plausibly on a par with other liberal freedoms. Next we argue that, if a state’s right to self-determination grounds (...) a prima facie right to restrict immigration, then it also grounds a prima facie right to restrict freedom of speech, religion, sexual choice and more. We then suggest that the social costs associated with freedom of immigration are also costs associated with occupational choice, speech and reproduction. Thus, a state’s interest in reducing these costs gives it prima facie justification to restrict not only immigration but also other core liberal freedoms. Moreover, we rebut the objection that, even if the standard arguments for a prima facie right to restrict immigration also support a prima facie right to restrict liberal freedoms generally, there are differences that render immigration restrictions – but not restrictions on speech, religion, etc. – justified all things considered. In closing, we suggest that the theoretical price of supporting immigration restrictions – viz., compromising a commitment to liberal principles – is too steep to pay. (shrink)
In his last works, John Rawls explicitly argued for an overlapping consensus on a family of reasonable liberal political conceptions of justice, rather than just one. This ‘Deep Version’ of political liberalism opens up new questions about the relationship between citizens’ political conceptions, from which they must draw and offer public reasons in their political advocacy, and their comprehensive doctrines. These questions centre on whether a reasonable citizen’s choice of political conception can be influenced by her comprehensive doctrine. In (...) this paper I present two models of the relationship, which give contrasting answers to these questions, and defend the model that is more permissive with regard to the influence of comprehensive doctrines. This has important implications for our understanding of Rawlsian political liberalism, and reduces the force of objections that have been offered by theorists sympathetic to religion. (shrink)
This article contextualises current debates over human rights and transnational corporations. More specifically, we begin by first providing the background to John Ruggie's appointment as 'Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises'. Second, we provide a brief discussion of the rise of transnational corporations, and of their growing importance in terms of global governance. Third, we introduce the notion of human rights, and note some difficulties associated therewith. Fourth, we (...) refer to Ruggie's scholarly work on 'embedded liberalism', the 'global public domain' and 'social constructivism'. Following this, we refer to the other five papers contained in this "Journal of Business Ethics" special issue, 'Spheres of Influence/Spheres of Responsibility: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights', and consider some of the potential obstacles to Ruggie's recent suggestion that a 'new consensus' has formed, or is forming, around his 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework. We conclude by raising questions regarding the processes of consensus-building around, and the operationalisation of, Ruggie's 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework. (shrink)
In this paper I reconstruct and defend John Rawls' The Law of Peoples, including the distinction between liberal and decent peoples. A “decent people” is defined as a people who possesses a comprehensive doctrine and uses that doctrine as the ground of political legitimacy, while liberal peoples do not possess a comprehensive doctrine. I argue that liberal and decent peoples are bound by the same normative requirements with the qualification that decent peoples accept the same normative demands when they are (...) reasonably interpreted and from their comprehensive doctrine, not from political liberalism. Normative standards for peoples appear in a law of peoples in two places: as internal constraints carried forward from political liberalism which regulate domestic affairs and as principles derived from a second original position that provide the normative ground for a society of peoples. This first source of normative standards was unfortunately obscured in Rawls' account. I use this model to defeat the claim that Rawls has accommodated decent peoples without sufficient warrant and to argue that all reasonable citizens of both liberal and decent peoples would accept the political authority of the state as legitimate. Although my reconstruction differs from Rawls on key points, such as modifying the idea of decency and rejecting a place for decent peoples within a second original position, overall I defend the theoretical completeness of political liberalism and show how a law of peoples provides reasonable principles of international justice. (shrink)
This paper evaluates Jonathan Quong’s attempt to defend a version of political liberalism from the asymmetry objection. I object that Quong’s defence relies on a premise that has not been adequately supported and does not look as if it can be given adequate support.
In the wake of the revolutions of 1989, the ongoing political turmoil in the Soviet Union, and the democratization of most of Latin America, what is the task of political theorists? Ronald Beiner's invigorating critique of liberal theory and liberal practices takes on the shibboleths of modern Western discourse. He confronts the aridity of liberal societies that possess incommensurable "values" and "rights," but no principles. To Beiner, this neutralist view is both a false description of liberal society and an incoherent (...) political ideal. Rather, he encourages the theorist to remain faithful to the important task of questioning and criticism, instead of serving as a source of ideological reassurance about our own superiority. Beiner looks to the Socratic tradition for guidance. Permitting ethos to replace values, and discourse about "the good" to replace talk about "rights," the theorist is able to reorder social priorities. Considered in this light, the liberal political philosophy of the 1970s and 1980s appears insufficiently Socratic, as does a liberal way of life that presents itself as a model of imitation. Polemical, impassioned, and brilliantly argued, _What's the Matter with Liberalism?_ is essential reading for everyone who cares about contemporary theory and the future of liberal society. (shrink)
Luck egalitarians argue that distributive justice should be understood in terms of our capacity to be responsible for our choices. Both proponents and critics assume that the theory must rely on a comprehensive conception of responsibility. I respond to luck egalitarianism’s critics by developing a political conception of responsibility that remains agnostic on the metaphysics of free choice. I construct this political conception by developing a novel reading of John Rawls’ distinction between the political and the comprehensive. A surprising consequence (...) is that many responsibility-based objections to luck egalitarianism turn out to be objections to Rawls’ political liberalism as well. (shrink)
This essay assess the compatibility of Eva Kittay's dependency critique with Rawlsian political liberalism. I argue for the inclusion of a modified version of Kittay's revisions within Rawlsian theory in order to yield a theory that suppports a substantial subset of dependency work. Beyond these selected changes, however, I argue that Kittay's other proposed changes should not be included because they are incompatible with Rawls, and furthermore, their incorporation does not yield a theory that includes utter dependents.
The underlying objective of this project is to examine the ways in which the exclusionary status of Muslim Americans remains unchallenged within John Rawls’s version of political liberalism. Toward this end, I argue that the stipulation of genuine belief in what is reasonably accessible to others in our society is an unreasonable expectation from minorities, given our awareness of how we are perceived by others. Second, using the work of Lisa Schwartzman, I show that Rawls’s reliance on the abstraction (...) of a closed society legitimizes the exclusion of citizens with marginal social locations. And finally, applying Charles Mills’s critique of ideal theory, I argue that Rawls’s idealization of a posture of civic friendship detracts from a discussion of equally significant societal values while sustaining existing social hierarchies. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 26 We provide a justification for political liberalism’s Reciprocity Principle, which states that political decisions must be justified exclusively on the basis of considerations that all reasonable citizens can reasonably be expected to accept. The standard argument for the Reciprocity Principle grounds it in a requirement of respect for persons. We argue for a different, but compatible, justification: the Reciprocity Principle is justified because it makes possible a desirable kind of political community. The general endorsement (...) of the Reciprocity Principle, we will argue, helps realize joint political rule and relationships of civic friendship. The main obstacle to the realization of these values is the presence of reasonable disagreement about religious, moral, and philosophical issues characteristic of liberal societies. We show the Reciprocity Principle helps to overcome this obstacle. (shrink)
Public justification-based accounts of liberal legitimacy rely on the idea that a polity’s basic structure should, in some sense, be acceptable to its citizens. In this paper I discuss the prospects of that approach through the lens of Gerald Gaus’ critique of John Rawls’ paradigmatic account of democratic public justification. I argue that Gaus does succeed in pointing out some significant problems for Rawls’ political liberalism; yet his alternative, justificatory liberalism, is not voluntaristic enough to satisfy the desiderata (...) of a genuinely democratic theory of public justification. So I contend that—pace Gaus, but also Rawls—rather than simply amending political liberalism, the claims of justificatory liberalism bring out fatal tensions between the desiderata of any theory of liberal-democratic legitimacy through public justification. (shrink)
In the history of modern liberal thought, the work of F.A. Hayek stands out as among the most significant contributions since that of J.S. Mill. In this book, Kukathas critically examines the nature and coherence of Hayek's defense of liberal principles, attempting both to identify its weaknesses and to show why it makes an important contribution to contemporary political theory. Kukathas argues that Hayek's defense of liberalism is unsuccessful because it rests on presuppositions which are philosophically incompatible. In his (...) view, the unresolved dilemma of Hayek's political philosophy is how to mount a systematic defense of liberalism if one emphasizes the limited capacity of human reason. Hayek's social philosophy, he argues, offers a significant theory of the nature of social processes, and is therefore an important account of how this must constrain our choice of political principles. (shrink)
This paper is a review of Gerald Gaus's The Order of Public Reason. Its initial purpose is to explain how the overall argument of the book is meant to hang together. It also identifies four points at which the argument might be challenged, particularly as it relates to justificatory liberalism’s ‘classical tilt’.
Timothy Michael Fowler has argued that, as a consequence of their commitment to neutrality in regard to comprehensive doctrines, political liberals face a dilemma. In essence, the dilemma for political liberals is that either they have to give up their commitment to neutrality (which is an indispensible part of their view), or they have to allow harm to children. Fowler’s case for this dilemma depends on ascribing to political liberals a view which grants parents a great degree of freedom in (...) deciding on the education of their children. I show that ascribing this view to political liberals rests upon a misinterpretation of political liberalism. Since political liberals have access to reasons based upon the interests of children, they need not yield to parent’s wishes about the education of their children. A correct understanding of political liberalism thus shows that political liberals do not face the dilemma envisaged by Fowler. (shrink)
This essay seeks to start a dialogue between two traditions that historically have interpreted the economy in opposing ways: the individualism of classic economic liberalism (CEL), represented by Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, and the communitarianism of Catholic social teaching (CST), interpreted primarily through the teachings of popes and secondarily the U.S. Catholic bishops. The present authors, an economist and a moral theologian who identify with one or the other of the two traditions, strive to clarify objectively their similarities (...) and differences with the opposing perspective. Section one focuses on each position''s perspective of love of self and love of others. We find both CEL and CST saying that self-love, rightly understood, constitutes a moral good and that the love of others serves as an important principle in the political economy. We find less agreement in section two regarding justice and rights, but even here, we discover a few surprises. Both traditions uphold justice (giving to each party what is due) as essential to the political economy, and recognize some similarity in that type of justice called commutative. We note, however, substantial differences regarding a second type of justice that we call "public justice." First, they differ over the extent to which government should be involved. Here the meaning of rights, especially that of individual freedom, arises. Secondly, the traditions diverge over whether benevolence as a motivator ought to serve as a partner for public justice. Thirdly, CEL in general opposes CST''s emphasis on social justice that calls upon institutions to be proactive in helping citizens and groups to become active participants in the economy. We conclude our essay by summarizing our discoveries and by suggesting areas for further dialogue. (shrink)
Public reason liberals typically defend an accessibility requirement for reasons offered in public political dialog. The accessibility requirement holds that public reasons must be amenable to criticism, evaluable by reasonable persons, and the like. Public reason liberals are therefore hostile to the public use of reasons that appear inaccessible, especially religious reasons. This hostility has provoked strong reactions from public reason liberalism's religion-friendly critics. But public reason liberals and their religion-friendly critics need not be at odds because the accessibility (...) requirement is implausible. In fact, the accessibility requirement is ambiguous between two interpretations, one of which is too stringent and the other too loose. Depending upon the interpretation, accessibility either restricts the use of too many secular reasons or permits appeal to a wide range of religious reasons. The accessibility requirement should therefore be rejected. (shrink)
Political parties have only recently become a subject of investigation in political theory. In this paper I analyse religious political parties in the context of John Rawls’s political liberalism. Rawlsian political liberalism, I argue, overly constrains the scope of democratic political contestation and especially for the kind of contestation channelled by parties. This restriction imposed upon political contestation risks undermining democracy and the development of the kind of democratic ethos that political liberalism cherishes. In this paper I (...) therefore aim to provide a broader and more inclusive understanding of ‘reasonable’ political contestation, able to accommodate those parties (including religious ones) that political liberalism, as customarily understood, would exclude from the democratic realm. More specifically, I first embrace Muirhead and Rosenblum’s (Perspectives on Politics 4: 99–108 2006) idea that parties are ‘bilingual’ links between state and civil society and I draw its normative implications for party politics. Subsequently, I assess whether Rawls’s political liberalism is sufficiently inclusive to allow the presence of parties conveying religious and other comprehensive values. Due to Rawls’s thick conceptions of reasonableness and public reason, I argue, political liberalism risks seriously limiting the number and kinds of comprehensive values which may be channelled by political parties into the public political realm, and this may render it particularly inhospitable to religious political parties. Nevertheless, I claim, Rawls’s theory does offer some scope for reinterpreting the concepts of reasonableness and public reason in a thinner and less restrictive sense and this may render it more inclusive towards religious partisanship. (shrink)
In this paper I analyze the theory of legitimacy at the core of John Rawls’ political liberalism. Rawls argues that a political system is well grounded when it is stable. This notion of stability embodies both pragmatic and moral elements, each of which constitutes a key desideratum of Rawlsian liberal legitimacy. But those desiderata are in tension with each other. My main claim is that Rawls’ strategy to overcome that tension through his theory of public justification is ultimately unsuccessful, (...) because the account of consensus it envisages is unstably placed between the extremes of moralized redundancy and pragmatic free-for-all. In other words, what counts as consensus is either regulated too tightly, or not enough. -/- . (shrink)
According to the “internal” conception (Quong), political liberalism aims to be publicly justifiable only to people who are reasonable in a special sense specified and advocated by political liberalism itself. One advantage of the internal conception allegedly is that it enables liberalism to avoid perfectionism. The paper takes issue with this view. It argues that once the internal conception is duly pitched at its fundamental, metatheoretical level and placed in its proper discursive context, it emerges that it (...) comes at the cost of public dogma. The paper examines this problem and argues that a plausible response to this problem is to go beyond the internal conception and adopt a more inclusive, dynamic conception. But this calls for a form of perfectionism. Thus, the internal conception of political liberalism, far from showing how liberalism can be had without perfectionism, effectively calls for perfectionism as a remedy for its problems. (shrink)
Martha Nussbaum grounds her version of the capabilities approach in political liberalism. In this paper, we argue that the capabilities approach, insofar as it genuinely values the things that persons can actually do and be, must be grounded in a hybrid account of liberalism: in order to show respect for adults, its justification must be political; in order to show respect for children, however, its implementation must include a commitment to comprehensive autonomy, one that ensures that children develop (...) the skills necessary to make meaningful choices about whether or not to exercise their basic capabilities. Importantly, in order to show respect for parents who do not necessarily recognize autonomy as a value, we argue that the liberal state, via its system of public education, should take on the role of ensuring that all children within the state develop a sufficient degree of comprehensive autonomy. (shrink)
Unlike his theory of justice as fairness, John Rawls’s political liberalism has generally been spared from critiques regarding what is due to the disabled. This paper demonstrates that, due to the account of the basic ideas of society and persons provided by Rawls, political liberalism requires that the interests of numerous individuals with disabilities should be put aside when the most fundamental issues of justice are settled. The aim is to accommodate within public reason the due concern for (...) the disabled while upholding political liberalism. To achieve this aim, a revision of the basic ideas of persons and society is proposed. The idea of persons should be regarded as more fundamental than that of social cooperation, and persons should be defined in terms of minimal moral powers. (shrink)
Some religiously devout individuals believe divine command can override an obligation to obey the law where the two are in conflict. At the extreme, some individuals believe that acts of violence that seek to change or punish a political community, or to prevent others from violating what they take to be God’s law, are morally justified. In the face of this apparent clash between religious and political commitments it might seem that modern versions of political morality—such as John Rawls’s political (...)liberalism—that refuse to take a stance on controversial religious matters, or eschew appeal to perfectionist doctrines, are beset by a particularly acute version of this problem of religious disobedience. Whilst political liberalism follows this path so as to generate wide and stable support, it raises the question of how political liberals should respond to religiously motivated non-compliance with the norms of that liberal conception of justice. This article evaluates what resources are available to political liberalism to respond to this challenge. It examines whether anti-perfectionism can be sustained in the face of those whose religious beliefs are in conflict with the law. We argue that, under certain circumstances, political liberalism requires direct engagement with the religious views of the unreasonable, including offering religious arguments to show that their particular interpretation of their faith is mistaken. This view takes political liberalism away from its usual ambitions, but it is a position that is both anticipated by Rawls and consistent with his view. It does, however, require that political liberals give up the claim that the view is a wholly non-sectarian, purely political view, and accept that, under certain circumstances it is a partially comprehensive version of liberal theory. (shrink)
This is a book about the harms of oppression, and about addressing these harms using the resources of liberalism and Kantianism. Its central thesis is that people who are oppressed are bound by the duty of self-respect to resist their own oppression. In it, I defend certain core ideals of the liberal tradition—specifically, the fundamental importance of autonomy and rationality, the intrinsic and inalienable dignity of the individual, and the duty of self-respect—making the case that these ideals are pivotal (...) in both understanding and counteracting oppression. I argue that if we take these ideals seriously then it follows that people who are oppressed have an obligation to themselves to resist their own oppression. (shrink)
Baruch de Spinoza —often recognized as the first modern Jewish thinker—was also a founder of modern liberal political philosophy. This book is the first to connect systematically these two aspects of Spinoza's legacy. Steven B. Smith shows that Spinoza was a politically engaged theorist who both advocated and embodied a new conception of the emancipated individual, a thinker who decisively influenced such diverse movements as the Enlightenment, liberalism, and political Zionism. Focusing on Spinoza's _Theologico-Political Treatise_, Smith argues that Spinoza (...) was the first thinker of note to make the civil status of Jews and Judaism an essential ingredient of modern political thought. Before Marx or Freud, Smith notes, Spinoza recast Judaism to include the liberal values of autonomy and emancipation from tradition. Smith examines the circumstances of Spinoza's excommunication from the Jewish community of Amsterdam, his skeptical assault on the authority of Scripture, his transformation of Mosaic prophecy into a progressive philosophy of history, his use of the language of natural right and the social contract to defend democratic political institutions, and his comprehensive comparison of the ancient Hebrew commonwealth and the modern commercial republic. According to Smith, Spinoza's _Treatise_ represents a classic defense of religious toleration and intellectual freedom, showing them to be necessary foundations for political stability and liberal regimes. In this study Smith examines Spinoza's solution to the Jewish Question and asks whether a Judaism, so conceived, can long survive. (shrink)
A critical discussion of Toula Nicolacopoulos' 'The Radical Critique of Liberalism'. I analyse her methodology of 'critical reconstructionism' and argue that considerations about the epistemic status of the inquiring practices leading to the formulation of liberal political theory need not affect the viability and desirability of liberal political practice, especially if we adopt a historically-informed realist account of the foundations of liberalism.
Nico Silins has proposed and defended a form of Liberalism about perception that, he thinks, is a good compromise between the Dogmatism of Jim Pryor and others, and the Conservatism of Roger White, Crispin Wright, and others. In particular, Silins argues that his theory can explain why having justification to believe the negation of skeptical hypotheses is a necessary condition for having justification to believe ordinary propositions, even though (contra the Conservative) the latter is not had in virtue of (...) the former. I argue that Silins's explanation is unsuccessful, and hence that we should prefer either White/Wright-style Conservatism (which can explain this necessary condition) or Pryor-style Dogmatism (which denies that this is a necessary condition). (shrink)
There is a fault line running through classical liberalism as to whether or not democratic self-governance is a necessary part of a liberal social order. The democratic and non-democratic strains of classical liberalism are both present today—particularly in America. Many contemporary libertarians and neo-Austrian economists represent the non-democratic strain in their promotion of non-democratic sovereign city-states (startup cities or charter cities). We will take the late James M. Buchanan as a representative of the democratic strain of classical (...) class='Hi'>liberalism. Since the fundamental norm of classical liberalism is consent, we must start with the intellectual history of the voluntary slavery contract, the coverture marriage contract, and the voluntary non-democratic constitution (or pactum subjectionis). Next we recover the theory of inalienable rights that descends from the Reformation doctrine of the inalienability of conscience through the Enlightenment (e.g., Spinoza and Hutcheson) in the abolitionist and democratic movements. Consent-based governments divide into those based on the subjects' alienation of power to a sovereign and those based on the citizens' delegation of power to representatives. Inalienable rights theory rules out that alienation in favor of delegation, so the citizens remain the ultimate principals and the form of government is democratic. Thus the argument concludes in agreement with Buchanan that the classical liberal endorsement of sovereign individuals acting in the marketplace generalizes to the joint action of individuals as the principals in their own organizations. (shrink)
Rawls in his later philosophy claims that it is sufficient to accept political conception as true or right, depending on what one's worldview allows, on the basis of whatever reasons one can muster, given one's worldview (doctrine). What political liberalism is interested in is a practical agreement on the political conception and not in our reasons for accepting it. There are deep issues (regarding deep values, purpose of life, metaphysics etc.) which cannot be resolved through invoking common reasons (this (...) is the fact of free reason itself), and trying to resolve them would involve us in interminable debates and would hamper the practical task of agreement on the political conception. Given the absolute necessity of a political society which is stable and enduring, it is thus wise to avoid these issues in founding a political society and choosing its basic principles - this is the pragmatic part of Rawls's position. In this paper I argue that this strategy leads Rawls into a paradox: (i) although the intention is to stay independent of comprehensive doctrines, the political conception is in fact totally (and precariously) dependent on comprehensive doctrines (not just on one doctrine but on each and every major doctrine in society). It is dependent on them: for its conceptualisation as an independent idea, for its justification, for the check of its reasonability in relation to the external world, for the formation of identities and value inculcation and hence for the formation of its model citizen; (ii) the very search for independence makes the political conception more dependent on comprehensive doctrines, and by extension makes it potentially more prone to intervention in and tampering with comprehensive doctrines (it is enough to show that it is a strong conceptual possibility to cast doubt on the whole strategy). Thus, for example, the political conception relies on the hope that “firmly held convictions gradually change” and that it would “in fact . . . have the capacity to shape those doctrines toward itself”. The purpose of the Rawlsian conjecture is to give these “hopes” a concrete, practical form by giving advice to proponents of the comprehensive doctrine on how they can do all this and “try to show them that, despite what they might think, they can still endorse a reasonable political conception”. I further argue that this paradox can be overcome by making the core of political liberalism more flexible. (shrink)
The unfortunately vast history of paternalism in both medicine and clinical research has resulted in perpetually increasing respect for patient autonomy and free choice in Western health care systems. Beginning with the negative right to informed consent, the principle of respect for autonomy has for many patients evolved into a positive right to request treatments and expect accommodation. This evolution of patient autonomy has mirrored a more general social attitude of market liberalism where increasing numbers of patients have come (...) to embody the role of the “consumer.” This paper explores this transformation and critiques the current way in which respect for patient autonomy is put into practice. Ultimately, this paper concludes that the consumer view of patient autonomy is dysfunctional. Moreover, this paper argues that, based on the inherent goals of medicine, some form of paternalism is required in any meaningfully therapeutic relationship. (shrink)
This paper makes an attempt to philosophically re-construct what I have termed as a fundamental paradox at the heart of deontological liberalism. It is argued that liberalism attempts to create the possibilities of rational consensus and of bringing people together socially and politically by developing methodologies which overcome the divisive nature of essentially parochial substantive conceptions of the good. Such methodologies relying on the supposed universally valid dictates of reason and notions of procedural rationality proceed by disengaging men (...) from the divisive particularities of their plural value contexts. That disengagement is sought to be achieved by conceptualizing the individual as self sufficient in her moral and epistemic being thereby conceptually isolating individual man from the other. The liberal effort to create rational consensus which can bring people together then gets off the ground by isolating the individual from the other. This I have termed as the paradox of the self and the other or alternatively the paradox of social atomism and universalism. As a possible philosophical alternative this paper makes an attempt to re-construct Gandhi’s conceptualization of the relationship between swaraj as self rule and Satyagraha as non-violent resistance. This Gandhian connection, it is argued, has the potential to transform the moral psychology of our response to the other, thereby posing a challenge to the modern, predominantly liberal, conceptualization of such a response. (shrink)
This paper provides a brief overview of the relationship between libertarian political theory and the Universal Basic Income (UBI). It distinguishes between different forms of libertarianism and argues that a one form, classical liberalism, is compatible with and provides some grounds of support for UBI. A classical liberal UBI, however, is likely to be much smaller than the sort of UBI defended by those on the political left. And there are both contingent empirical reasons and principled moral reasons for (...) doubting that the classical liberal case for UBI will be ultimately successful at all. (shrink)
Horacio Spector provides an original and compelling moral justification of classical liberalism. Among the topics he discusses are the concepts of negative and positive freedom, the notion of a moral right, the link between positive freedom and personal autonomy, and the agent-relativity of moral reasons.
In this paper, I propose to look closely at certain crucial aspects of the logic of Rawls' argument in Political Liberalism and related subsequent writings. Rawls' argument builds on the notion of comprehensiveness, whereby a doctrine encompasses the full spectrum of the life of its adherents. In order to show the mutual conflict and irreconcilability of comprehensive doctrines, Rawls needs to emphasise the comprehensiveness of doctrines, as their irreconcilability to a large extent emanates from that comprehensiveness. On the other (...) hand, in order to show the possibility and plausibility of the political liberal solution he needs to emphasise that most of these doctrines are reasonable: i.e., they are willing to cede a portion of their authority to political liberalism for the right reasons. Yet, if they are willing to cede a portion of their authority to a political conception they cannot be as comprehensive as we initially thought they were. All these elements highlight the tension in the argument itself. I suggest that many of these tensions can be removed by making Rawls' account more flexible. In this context I propose certain amendments to Rawls' account, which may overcome some of the tensions mentioned above. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Rawlsians have largely misunderstood the idea of an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines, thereby failing to delineate in an appropriate way the place of comprehensive doctrines in political liberalism. My argument rests on two core claims. The first claim is that (i) political liberalism is committed to three theses about the overlapping consensus. The first thesis concerns the subject of the overlapping consensus; the second thesis concerns the function of the overlapping (...) consensus; the third thesis explains how the overlapping consensus can serve its function in accordance with political liberalism’s commitment to epistemic neutrality. The second claim on which my argument relies is empirical: (ii) Rawlsians typically deny at least one of the three theses to which political liberalism is committed. Based on (i) and (ii), I conclude that Rawlsians have hitherto provided unconvincing accounts of the place of comprehensive doctrines in political liberalism. (shrink)