The Appeal of Political Liberalism *

Samuel Scheffler

in Boundaries and Allegiances

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780199257676
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600197 | DOI:
 The Appeal of Political Liberalism  *

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Attempts to ground liberal toleration in pluralism about value, in scepticism about value, or in the simple need for a modus vivendi are all subject to various difficulties. John Rawls, in his book Political Liberalism, develops a fourth proposal, one that aims to give toleration and other liberal institutions a basis in moral reasons without presupposing any controversial moral outlook. In this essay, Scheffler critically examines Rawls's argument that the principles of justice can rest on an overlapping consensus of comprehensive moral and religious doctrines. Among the issues Scheffler discusses are the possibility of including classical utilitarianism in an overlapping consensus, the relationship between such a consensus and the ideal of public reason, and the relevance of political liberalism for societies that lack liberal, democratic traditions.

Keywords: democracy; justice; liberalism; overlapping consensus; public reason; John Rawls; toleration; utilitarianism; value

Chapter.  9244 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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