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JOHN RAWLS POLITICAL LIBERALISM PDF

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This book continues and revises the ideas of justice as fairnessthat John Rawls presented in A Theory of Justice butchanges its philosophical interpretation in. John Rawls' Political Liberalism is much more than just an effort to correct what Rawls saw as an error in his masterwork, A Theory of Justice. The political. Page 1. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7. Page 8. Page 9. Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page Page


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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. Political liberalism was born out of a crisis in this principle of legitimacy. The ambition . John Rawls, who has given by far the most detailed account of political. PDF | On Jan 1, , M Kuna and others published The political liberalism of John Rawls.

But one important their considered judgments will lead them to agree on difference between them, which Rawls does not di- principles of justice. But in their everyday actions, they rectly note, is how they view the relationship between will often be guided by self-interest.

For Rawls, this is justice and the state. Since the institutions of the basic structure state led him to argue that the state should have an will secure justice, citizens need not be guided by the important but limited role in education, for example. It is only when these principles need to be if they could not afford to do so, then state assistance adjusted do citizens need to reflect upon the meaning should be available Mill , But parents of justice.

The institutions of the basic structure have would send their children to the schools of their rules that are to be obeyed, so justice can be achieved choice; this would include, without being limited to, Rawls , 68; , Embedded in the basic state-run schools. A government. Annual exam- Cohen ; Murphy It is not only that enforce this equality within the family Mann and citizens agree to the principles of justice in an abstract Spinner-Halev, Citizens act willingly justice.

We can both reasonable and rational. In this fashion, justice disapprove of unjust behavior, and we can try to use as fairness will generate its own support , He nonetheless this intimates, Mill took justice to be also a matter of thinks that it is easier for people to agree to justice in interaction between citizens and not just part of what their considered judgments than to act justly in their Rawls calls the basic structure.

Progress meant increasing education and of the role of the state or of justice. In what he calls cooperation among citizens. He argued for inheritance taxes, cooperatives. He argued that the wealthy common to all. His lack of interest ventures everywhere He thought cooperation in determining the content of justice is partly due to would increase in many places: between spouses, at his belief that some aspects of justice will change over work, among doctors and booksellers, and so on.

In time. Nor does Mill provide a well-defined road map what might be called a virtuous circle, education and about when the state should intervene to ensure equality would expand the human mind, which would justice. He says that government action is for the lead to modes of cooperation, which would lead to benefit of the community, but he clearly thought that even more enlightenment. Mill did not contrast political and nonpolitical institutions in any sharp way.

More critical accounts appear in justice. Rawls clearly problems with this progressivist view of history, its differentiates associations from his principles of presence in his thinking helps to explain why Mill justice: associations must not violate the political does not rely too heavily in the state to promote and conception of justice, but they can be internally enforce justice.

It is only the institutions of the basic a specific moral psychology Rawls , Mill structure that must adhere to or promote the two believes that cooperation, reciprocity, and the desire principles of justice.

He thought that progress and civilization was equality of modern civilization, and the large scale the path society was on and that this would continue. Rawls thinks had a role in encouraging this progress but did not that Mill relies too heavily on a moral psychology based and should not enforce it.

This is not only because on an optimistic view of progress and not enough on Mill wanted state power to be limited, but also institutions enforcing justice. Rawls suggests a better because people would progress as they were ready.

As noted above, when justice is embedded in As progress continued, more people would be driven and enforced through state institutions, it assumes an more by the common good than by self-interest. Mill educative role. So while there are real political conception of justice is relatively narrow. Although reli- is not useful in illuminating them. He surely wanted laws to allow According to Rawls, comprehensive liberal doctrines doctors, booksellers and others to form coopera- jeopardize stability by reducing the number of citizens tives, but he would not want the state to force them who are likely to find their claims about politics to do so.

He expected citizens tutions rest in large part on ideals and values that to agree on some aspects of justice: he argued that are not generally, or perhaps even widely, shared in a everyone should be treated equally before the law.

Rawls But beyond that, he did not assume that the push and thinks that if he narrows the ground of justice, he pull of democratic politics would produce a consen- expands the possibility of agreement among citizens sus beyond equal rights for all. For Rawls, not specified. What only in a just society do people willingly comply with kinds of disagreements about justice would be accept- the laws.

Weithman imputes to Rawls a notion of able within this range is opaque. While Rawls refrains from specifying , 45—6. Yet having everyone agree on the same By insisting that agreement—or something close principles of justice is a tall order, and Rawls recog- to it—on both principles of justice is necessary for nizes that this is an ideal , 9. While complete stability, Rawls removes the very grounds for stability.

Yet including the second principle of justice in and secure democratic regime. The ques- utive justice that Rawls glides over is large: the level of tion cannot only be how much agreement is neces- taxes that are just; the extent of the social welfare sary for a regime to survive.

All it, so they follow its laws but only because there is are matters that are sharply disputed today, yet go no viable alternative. Yet this kind of stability is not to the core of distributive justice.

While most people what Rawls is after: he wants a stable regime where in Western democracies might agree on an account not just the majority, but a vast and overwhelming of rights similar to what is encompassed in the first majority, willingly supports the state and its con- principle of justice, the extent and kind of distribu- ception of justice. Rawls is caught between his tive justice that Western democracies ought to support conception of stability, which contains a stringent is quite divisive.

Perhaps this is then most or all liberal democracies today are far from why when conceding that different conceptions legitimate. Rawls says that citizens may disagree about particular details about justice, 11 This point is also briefly made by Taylor , chap. What fits in with the principle by religious citizens. Even after his concern for stability focuses on how to get agreement putative political turn, Rawls has a similar view to by people with different comprehensive doctrines.

Mill about the importance of autonomy, harbors a The examples of different comprehensive doctrines in more comprehensive view of the state than Mill does, Political Liberalism are religious, and the language and demands more agreement from citizens about used to describe them is often that of truth and the content of justice.

Mill is more suspicious of state salvation. The dominant issue is achieving agreement power than is Rawls and does not place justice as a on political principles by people with different reli- focal point of the basic structure. But if Rawls is too gious views. This says little to those citizens who ready to assume that near agreement on distributive deeply disagree about distributive justice, often for justice is possible, Mill is too optimistic about how nonreligious reasons.

The second have made sense in the nineteenth century, but it is principle of justice—the difference principle and the hard to share that today. Mill asks: given ical liberalism. Rawls asks: come about is incomplete. Levinson, Meira. The Demands of Liberal Education. Polity — Mehta Uday Singh. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Acknowledgments Mill John Stuart. Gertrude Himmelfarb. New York: Anchor Books, Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 45— North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The authors thank Mill John Stuart. On Socialism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus both audiences for their comments and questions, Books. On Liberty and Other Essays. John earlier draft. Mill John Stuart. Alan Ryan. New York: Norton. Murphy, Liam. References Parekh, Bhikku. Alejandro, Roberto. Liberalism in Britain and France. John Rawls.

Rawls’s Political Liberalism

Montreal and Kingston: University Press. McGill Queens University Press. Pogge, Thomas. Culture and Equality. Essays, ed. Mark Timmons. Reading Power and Freedom in J.

Press, — Rawls's own metaethical theory of the objectivity and validity of political judgments, political constructivism, will be described below, after the substantive political theory from which it emerges. Political Liberalism: Legitimacy and Stability within a Liberal Society In a free society, citizens will have disparate worldviews. They will believe in different religions or none at all; they will have differing conceptions of right and wrong; they will divide on the value of lifestyles and of forms of interpersonal relationships.

Democratic citizens will have contrary commitments, yet within any country there can only be one law. The law must either establish a national church, or not; women must either have equal rights, or not; abortion and gay marriage must either be permissible under the constitution, or not; the economy must be set up in one way or another. Rawls holds that the need to impose a unified law on a diverse citizenry raises two fundamental challenges.

The first is the challenge of legitimacy: the legitimate use of coercive political power. How can it be legitimate to coerce all citizens to follow just one law, given that citizens will inevitably hold quite different worldviews? The second challenge is the challenge of stability, which looks at political power from the receiving end. Why would a citizen willingly obey the law if it is imposed on her by a collective body many of whose members have beliefs and values quite dissimilar to her own?

Yet unless most citizens willingly obey the law, no social order can be stable for long. Rawls answers these challenges of legitimacy and stability with his theory of political liberalism. Political liberalism is not yet Rawls's theory of justice justice as fairness. Political liberalism answers the conceptually prior questions of legitimacy and stability, so fixing the context and starting points for justice as fairness. In light of the diversity within a democracy, what would it mean for citizens legitimately to exercise coercive political power over one another?

Rawls's test for the acceptable use of political power in a democracy is his liberal principle of legitimacy: Our exercise of political power is fully proper only when it is exercised in accordance with a constitution the essentials of which all citizens as free and equal may reasonably be expected to endorse in the light of principles and ideals acceptable to their common human reason. PL, According to this principle, political power may only be used in ways that all citizens can reasonably be expected to endorse.

The use of political power must fulfill a criterion of reciprocity: citizens must reasonably believe that all citizens can reasonably accept the enforcement of a particular set of basic laws. Those coerced by law must be able to endorse the society's fundamental political arrangements freely, not because they are dominated or manipulated or kept uninformed.

The liberal principle of legitimacy intensifies the challenge of legitimacy: how can any particular set of basic laws legitimately be imposed upon a pluralistic citizenry? What constitution could all citizens reasonably be expected to endorse? Rawls's answer to this challenge begins by explaining what it would mean for citizens to be reasonable.

They are willing to propose and abide by mutually acceptable rules, given the assurance that others will also do so. They will also honor these rules, even when this means sacrificing their own particular interests. Reasonable citizens want, in short, to belong to a society where political power is legitimately used.

Each reasonable citizen has her own view about God and life, right and wrong, good and bad. Each has, that is, what Rawls calls her own comprehensive doctrine. Yet because reasonable citizens are reasonable, they are unwilling to impose their own comprehensive doctrines on others who are also willing to search for mutually agreeable rules. Though each may believe that she knows the truth about the best way to live, none is willing to force other reasonable citizens to live according to her beliefs, even if she belongs to a majority that has the power to enforce those beliefs on everyone.

One reason that reasonable citizens are so tolerant, Rawls says, is that they accept a certain explanation for the diversity of worldviews in their society. Reasonable citizens accept the burdens of judgment. The deepest questions of religion, philosophy, and morality are very difficult even for conscientious people to think through. People will answer these questions in different ways because of their own particular life experiences their upbringing, class, occupation, and so on.

Reasonable citizens understand that these deep issues are ones on which people of good will can disagree, and so will be unwilling to impose their own worldviews on those who have reached conclusions different than their own. This capacity gives hope that the diversity of worldviews in a democratic society may represent not merely pluralism, but reasonable pluralism.

Rawls hopes, that is, that the religious, moral, and philosophical doctrines that citizens accept will themselves endorse toleration and accept the essentials of a democratic regime. In the religious sphere for example a reasonable pluralism might contain a reasonable Catholicism, a reasonable interpretation of Islam, a reasonable atheism, and so on. Being reasonable, none of these doctrines will advocate the use of coercive political power to impose conformity on those with different beliefs.

The possibility of reasonable pluralism softens but does not solve the challenge of legitimacy: how a particular set of basic laws can legitimately be imposed on a diverse citizenry. For even in a society of reasonable pluralism, it would be unreasonable to expect everyone to endorse, say, a reasonable Catholicism as the basis for a constitutional settlement.

Reasonable Muslims or atheists cannot be expected to endorse Catholicism as setting the basic terms for social life. Nor, of course, can Catholics be expected to accept Islam or atheism as the fundamental basis of law. No comprehensive doctrine can be accepted by all reasonable citizens, and so no comprehensive doctrine can serve as the basis for the legitimate use of coercive political power.

Yet where else then to turn to find the ideas that will flesh out society's most basic laws, which all citizens will be required to obey? Since justification is addressed to others, it proceeds from what is, or can be, held in common; and so we begin from shared fundamental ideas implicit in the public political culture in the hope of developing from them a political conception that can gain free and reasoned agreement in judgment.

PL, —01 There is only one source of fundamental ideas that can serve as a focal point for all reasonable citizens of a liberal society. This is the society's public political culture. Rawls looks to fundamental ideas implicit, for example, in the design of the society's government, in the constitutional list of individual rights, and in the historic decisions of important courts.

These fundamental ideas from the public political culture can be crafted into a political conception of justice.

Political Liberalism: Expanded Edition

A political conception of justice is an interpretation of the fundamental ideas implicit in that society's public political culture. A political conception is not derived from any particular comprehensive doctrine, nor is it a compromise among the worldviews that happen to exist in society at the moment.

Rather a political conception is freestanding: its content is set out independently of the comprehensive doctrines that citizens affirm. Reasonable citizens, who want to cooperate with one another on mutually acceptable terms, will see that a freestanding political conception generated from ideas in the public political culture is the only basis for cooperation that all citizens can reasonably be expected to endorse.

The use of coercive political power guided by the principles of a political conception of justice will therefore be legitimate. The three most fundamental ideas that Rawls finds in the public political culture of a democratic society are that citizens are free and equal, and that society should be a fair system of cooperation.

All liberal political conceptions of justice will therefore be centered on interpretations of these three fundamental ideas. Since all the members of this family interpret the same fundamental ideas, however, all liberal political conceptions of justice will share certain basic features: A liberal political conception of justice will ascribe to all citizens familiar individual rights and liberties, such as rights of free expression, liberty of conscience, and free choice of occupation; A political conception will give special priority to these rights and liberties, especially over demands to further the general good e.

These abstract features must, Rawls says, be realized in certain kinds of institutions. He mentions several features that all societies that are ordered by a liberal political conception will share: fair opportunities for all citizens especially in education and training ; a decent distribution of income and wealth; government as the employer of last resort; basic health care for all citizens; and public financing of elections.

By Rawls's criteria, a libertarian conception of justice such as Nozick's in Anarchy, State, and Utopia is not a liberal political conception of justice. Libertarianism does not assure all citizens sufficient means to make use of their basic liberties, and it permits excessive inequalities of wealth and power.

By contrast, Rawls's own conception of justice justice as fairness does qualify as a member of the family of liberal political conceptions of justice. The use of political power in a liberal society will be legitimate if it is employed in accordance with the principles of any liberal conception of justice—justice as fairness, or some other.

Yet the challenge of stability remains: why will citizens willingly obey the law as specified by a liberal political conception? Legitimacy means that the law may permissibly be enforced; Rawls still needs to explain why citizens have reasons, from within their own points of view, to abide by such a law. If citizens do not believe they have such reasons, social order may disintegrate.

Rawls places his hopes for social stability on an overlapping consensus. In an overlapping consensus, citizens all endorse a core set of laws for different reasons. In Rawlsian terms, each citizen supports a political conception of justice for reasons internal to her own comprehensive doctrine.

Recall that the content of a political conception is freestanding: it is specified without reference to any comprehensive doctrine. Here is an example.

The quotation below from the second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church shows how a particular comprehensive doctrine Catholicism affirms one component of a liberal political conception a familiar individual liberty from within its own perspective: This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom.

This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that in matters religious no one is forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs.

Nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person, as this dignity is known through the revealed Word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right. A reasonable Islamic doctrine, and a reasonable atheistic doctrine, might also affirm this same right to religious freedom--not, of course, for the same reasons as Catholic doctrine, but each for its own reasons.

In an overlapping consensus, all reasonable comprehensive doctrines will support the right to religious freedom, each for its own reasons. Indeed, in an overlapping consensus, all reasonable comprehensive doctrines will endorse all of a political conception of justice, each from within its own point of view.

Some citizens may see liberalism as derived directly from their deepest beliefs, as in the quotation from Vatican II above. Others may accept a liberal conception as attractive in itself, but mostly separate from their other concerns. What is crucial is that all citizens view the values of a political conception of justice as very great values, which normally outweigh their other values should these conflict on some particular issue.

All citizens, for their own reasons, give the political conception priority in their reasoning about how their society's basic laws should be ordered. Rawls sees an overlapping consensus as the most desirable form of stability in a free society.

Stability in an overlapping consensus is superior to a mere balance of power a modus vivendi among citizens who hold contending worldviews. After all, power often shifts, and when it does the social stability of a modus vivendi may be lost. In an overlapping consensus, citizens affirm a political conception wholeheartedly from within their own perspectives, and so will continue to do so even if their group gains or loses political power.

Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Rawls says that an overlapping consensus is stable for the right reasons: each citizen affirms a moral doctrine a liberal conception of justice for moral reasons as given by their comprehensive doctrine. Abiding by liberal basic laws is not a citizen's second-best option in the face of the power of others; it is each citizen's first-best option given her own beliefs. Rawls does not assert that an overlapping consensus is achievable in every liberal society. Nor does he say that, once established, an overlapping consensus must forever endure.

Citizens in some societies may have too little in common to converge on a liberal political conception of justice.

In other societies, unreasonable doctrines may spread until they overwhelm liberal institutions. Rawls does hold that history shows both deepening trust and convergence in beliefs among citizens in many liberal societies. This gives hope that an overlapping consensus is at least possible. Where an overlapping consensus is possible, Rawls believes, it is the best support for social stability that a free society can achieve. It is unreasonable for citizens to attempt to impose what they see as the whole truth on others—political power must be used in ways that all citizens may reasonably be expected to endorse.

With his doctrine of public reason, Rawls extends this requirement of reciprocity to apply directly to how citizens explain their political decisions to one another. In essence, public reason requires citizens to be able to justify their political decisions to one another using publicly available values and standards.

To take a straightforward example: a Supreme Court justice deciding on a gay marriage law would violate public reason were she to base her opinion on God's forbidding gay sex in the book of Leviticus, or on a personal spiritual revelation that upholding such a law would hasten the end of days. This is because not all members of society can reasonably be expected to accept Leviticus as stating an authoritative set of political values, nor can a religious premonition be a common standard for evaluating public policy.

These values and standards are not public. Rawls's doctrine of public reason can be summarized as follows: Citizens engaged in certain political activities have a duty of civility to be able to justify their decisions on fundamental political issues by reference only to public values and public standards. Each of the highlighted terms in this doctrine can be further elucidated as follows: The public values that citizens must be able to appeal to are the values of a political conception of justice: those related to the freedom and equality of citizens, and to the fairness of the terms of social cooperation.

Among such public values are the freedom of religious practice, the political equality of women and of racial minorities, the efficiency of the economy, the preservation of a healthy environment, and the stability of the family which helps the orderly reproduction of society from one generation to the next. Nonpublic values are the values internal to associations like churches e. Similarly, citizens should be able to justify their political decisions by public standards of inquiry. Public standards are principles of reasoning and rules of evidence that all citizens could reasonably endorse.

So citizens are not to justify their political decisions by appeal to divination, or to complex and disputed economic or psychological theories. Rather, publicly acceptable standards are those that rely on common sense, on facts generally known, and on the conclusions of science that are well established and not controversial.

The duty to abide by public reason applies when the most fundamental political issues are at stake: issues such as who has the right to vote, which religions are to be tolerated, who will be eligible to own property, and what are suspect classifications for discrimination in hiring decisions.

These are what Rawls calls constitutional essentials and matters of basic justice. Public reason applies more weakly, if at all, to less momentous political questions, for example to most laws that change the rate of tax, or that put aside public money to maintain national parks.

Citizens have a duty to constrain their decisions by public reason only when they engage in certain political activities, usually when exercising powers of public office. So judges are bound by public reason when they issue their rulings, legislators should abide by public reason when speaking and voting in the legislature, and the executive and candidates for high office should respect public reason in their public pronouncements. Significantly, Rawls says that voters should also heed public reason when they vote.

All of these activities are or support exercises of political power, so by the liberal principle of legitimacy all must be justifiable in terms that all citizens might reasonably endorse.

However, citizens are not bound by any duties of public reason when they engage in other activities, for example when they worship in church, perform on stage, pursue scientific research, send letters to the editor, or talk politics around the dinner table. The duty to be able to justify one's political decisions with public reasons is a moral duty, not a legal duty: it is a duty of civility.

All citizens always have their full legal rights to free expression, and overstepping the bounds of public reason is never in itself a crime. Rather, citizens have a moral duty of mutual respect and civic friendship not to justify their political decisions on fundamental issues by appeal to partisan values or controversial standards of reasoning that cannot be publicly redeemed.

In an important proviso, Rawls adds that citizens may speak the language of their controversial comprehensive doctrines—even as public officials, and even on the most fundamental issues—so long as they show how these assertions support the public values that all share.For example the fact that a citizen was born rich, white, and male provides no reason in itself for this citizen to be favored by social institutions.

Within foundationalist approaches, some subset of beliefs is considered to be unrevisable, thereby serving as a foundation on which all other beliefs are to be based. The authors thank Mill John Stuart. The ideas and notions that are constitutive for an argument can therefore always be traced back to philosophical background theories. The exceptions were two wars.

The second challenge is the challenge of stability, which looks at political power from the receiving end.

Political Liberalism and Public Reason:

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