Disagreement and Asymmetry

Jonathan Quong

in Liberalism without Perfection

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594870
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723513 | DOI:
Disagreement and Asymmetry

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Reasonable people, critics of political liberalism point out, disagree about justice every bit as much as they do about the good life, so why does political liberalism permit the state to enforce controversial conceptions of justice when it will not allow the state to act on the basis of controversial conceptions of the good? The author calls this the asymmetry objection, and this chapter shows how political liberals can rebut the objection. There are, the author shows, at least two kinds of disagreements that can occur between reasonable people: justificatory and foundational. The former disagreements are framed by common premises or assumptions, whereas the latter disagreements go ‘all the way down’. With this distinction in hand, the author shows why political liberalism's asymmetric treatment of disagreements about justice and disagreements about the good is defensible and desirable.

Keywords: asymmetry; good life; justification; liberal legitimacy; perfectionism; political liberalism; public reason; Rawls

Chapter.  15158 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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