Journal of Political Philosophy 26 (4):486-507 (2018)

Han van Wietmarschen
University College London
Political liberalism holds that political decisions should be made on the basis of public considerations, and not on the basis of comprehensive religious, moral, or philosophical views. An important objection to this view is that it presupposes doubt, hesitation, or skepticism about the truth of comprehensive doctrines on the side of reasonable citizens. Proponents of political liberalism, such as John Rawls and Jonathan Quong, successfully defend political liberalism against several objections of this kind. In this paper, I argue that recent developments in the epistemology of disagreement require us to revisit these skeptical concerns. I will argue that the correct understanding of political liberalism’s epistemic commitments, in combination with a conciliatory view about peer disagreement, lead to a new skeptical problem for political liberalism. All reasonable citizens who also hold a set of religious, moral, or philosophical beliefs, I will argue, suffer from a breakdown of epistemic rationality. I will show that existing answers to skeptical objections fail to resolve this problem.
Keywords Political Liberalism  Public Reason  Peer Disagreement  Toleration  Reasonableness  Skepticism  Epistemic Peers
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/jopp.12152
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,078
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Epistemology of Disagreement: The Good News.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.
Reflection and Disagreement.Adam Elga - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):478–502.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.C. L. Ten - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):563-566.
The Epistemic Significance of Disagreement.Thomas Kelly - 2005 - In John Hawthorne & Tamar Gendler (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. pp. 167-196.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Is Feminist Political Liberalism Possible?Christie Hartley & Lori Watson - 2010 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 5 (1):121.
The Impossibility of Democracy: Rawls’s and Rousseau’s Unacknowledged Demand for Irony.James Hersh - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 50:243-249.
What is Reasonableness?James W. Boettcher - 2004 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (5-6):597-621.
Self-Defeat and the Foundations of Public Reason.Sameer Bajaj - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (12):3133-3151.
Political Liberalism and Political Community.R. J. Leland & Han van Wietmarschen - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (2):142-167.
Possible Disagreements and Defeat.Brandon Carey - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 155 (3):371-381.
Epistemic Foundations of Political Liberalism.Fabienne Peter - 2013 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (5):598-620.


Added to PP index

Total views
84 ( #136,905 of 2,498,946 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #118,239 of 2,498,946 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes