Facing Diversity: The Case of Epistemic Abstinence


in Ethics in the Public Domain

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780198260691
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682148 | DOI:
Facing Diversity: The Case of Epistemic Abstinence

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  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law


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This chapter examines the contemporary philosophical responses of John Rawls and Thomas Nagel to the diversity of opinions, customs, and ideologies prevalent in society. Their responses differ in many important respects but share a common attitude marked by three features. First, the response of both thinkers to diversity is basically tolerant. Second, the justification of tolerance is based on the considerations of fairness. Third, these considerations lead them to draw boundaries to the reasons on which governments may act based on epistemic distinctions. The discussion challenges the cogency of reasons offered by both writers for epistemic abstinence.

Keywords: John Rawles; Thomas Nagel; epistemic abstinence; political independence; impartiality; truth

Chapter.  19056 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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