In Religion and the Obligations of Citizenship Paul J. Weithman asks whether citizens in a liberal democracy may base their votes and their public political arguments on their religious beliefs. Drawing on empirical studies of how religion actually functions in politics, he challenges the standard view that citizens who rely on religious reasons must be prepared to make good their arguments by appealing to reasons that are 'accessible' to others. He contends that churches contribute to democracy by enriching political debate (...) and by facilitating political participation, especially among the poor and minorities, and as a consequence, citizens acquire religiously based political views and diverse views of their own citizenship. He concludes that the philosophical view which most defensibly accommodates this diversity is one that allows ordinary citizens to draw on the views their churches have formed when voting and offering public arguments for their political positions. (shrink)
For over twenty years, Paul Weithman has explored the thought of John Rawls to ask how liberalism can secure the principled allegiance of those people whom Rawls called 'citizens of faith'. This volume brings together ten of his major essays, which reflect on the task and political character of political philosophy, the ways in which liberalism does and does not privatize religion, the role of liberal legitimacy in Rawls's theory, and the requirements of public reason. The essays reveal Rawls as (...) a thinker deeply engaged with political and existential questions that trouble citizens of faith, and explore how - in firm opposition to political realism - he tries to show that the possibility of liberal democracy and the natural goodness of humanity are objects of reasonable faith. The volume will be of interest to political philosophers, political theorists, moral theologians, and religious ethicists. (shrink)
This collection of papers makes a step towards increased dialogue among philosophical liberals and their theological, sociological and legal critics. The text should be significant for those concerned with the place of religion within a liberal society.
Rawls says in Political Liberalism that “the focus of an overlapping consensus is [more likely to be] a class of liberal conceptions” than a single one. In conceding that members of the well-ordered society are unlikely to live up to justice as fairness, Rawls would seem to have conceded that they are also unlikely to live autonomously. This is exactly the conclusion some commentators have drawn. I contend that the likelihood of “reasonable pluralism about justice” does not have the implication (...) for Rawls’s project that it is said to have: political autonomy remains available even when such pluralism obtains. (shrink)
Peter Vanderschraaf’s Strategic Justice is a powerful elaboration and defense of what he calls ‘justice as mutual advantage’. Vanderschraaf opens Strategic Justice by observing that ‘Plato set a template for all future philosophers by raising two interrelated questions: (1) What precisely is justice? (2) Why should one be just?’. He answers that (1) justice consists of conventions which (2) are followed because each sees that doing so is in her interest. These answers depend upon two conditions which Vanderschraaf calls Baseline (...) Consistency and Negative Mutual Expectations. I contend that the plausibility of the first condition depends upon principles which are prior to Vanderchraaf’s conventions of justice and that the second condition does not account for the interest Vanderschraaf must think we take in those principles. I therefore worry that Vanderschraaf does what he accuses other theorists of justice as mutual advantage of doing: going outside the bounds of justice as mutual advantage. To lay the groundwork for his conditions, Vanderschraaf analyzes the circumstances of justice. I argue that, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding, he does not take the circumstances to be the kind of conditions Hume takes them to be, but that he has good reason to do so. (shrink)
Economists now have the data to generate a high‐resolution picture of the economic inequalities within the very top fractions of income and wealth and between the top‐most fractions and others that have emerged since the early 1980s. I shall refer to these inequalities collectively as “the new inequality.” I argue that the moral value of solidarity can be used to raise pointed moral questions about the new inequality. In most cases, however, I shall raise such questions without answering them. For (...) I contend that solidarity functions more usefully as part of an articulate hermeneutic of suspicion—that is, as a central element in skepticism about economic inequalities and their justifications. Seeing that it functions in this way, we can see one contribution religious ethics makes to an inquiry into the new inequality. (shrink)
It has recently been contended that the rise of populism in the US, culminating in the election of Donald Trump, vindicates liberal political theory, and the liberal political theory of John Rawls in particular. For the election of someone like Trump is just what Rawls’s theory would lead us to expect. Rawls’s theory would lead us to expect it because Rawls thought that if a liberal democracy is to be stable, it must satisfy the demands of reciprocity. But there is (...) ample evidence that the contemporary US flouts those demands, and so an angry backlash of the sort that carried Trump to the White House is not surprising. I draw on research sociologist Arlie Hochschild did among voters on the American right to show that the failure of reciprocity which explains Trump’s election is not a failure of exactly the form of reciprocity Rawls had in mind. The difference between the two forms of reciprocity is suggestive. It suggests the sort of policy conclusions liberals and progressives ought to draw from Rawls’s theory to address our current predicament. (shrink)
This article lays out a central argument of Wolterstorff's book, which I call the Argument from Under-Respect . That argument, I contend, is central to Wolterstorff's thought about wrongs and human rights. Close attention to the argument raises questions about whether Wolterstorff's account of rights can explain what a theory of rights must include: why violating rights wrongs the rights-bearer.
In this paper, I shall be concerned with public justification of law in what John Rawls calls "ideal theory." Ideal theory is generally so called because it depends upon idealizing assumptions, such as the assumption of citizens' perfect compliance with laws and principles of justice. A theory can, however, be ideal in another sense of that term. It can identify conditions that must be met for a society to realize various moral or political ideals. I am interested in the conditions (...) under which a liberal democracy realizes what Rawls calls "the ideal of public reason." The nature and role of this ideal in Rawls's thought have remained somewhat obscure. I begin by clarifying them. (shrink)
Recent years have seen a certain impatience with John Rawls's approach to political philosophy and calls for the discipline to move beyond it. One source of dissatisfaction is Rawls's idea of a well-ordered society. In a recent article, Alex Schaefer has tried to give further impetus to this movement away from Rawlsian theorizing by pursuing a question about well-ordered societies that he thinks other critics have not thought to ask. He poses that question in the title of his article: “Is (...) Justice a Fixed Point?.” Though Schaefer is critical of Rawlsian political theorizing, I shall contend that his arguments also suggest two paths forward for those who would follow the Rawlsian approach. First, the intellectual devices Schaefer deploys help those who would continue the Rawlsian project to see, and precisely to chart, the next step that that project needs to take—a step necessitated by a concession Rawls himself made late in the development of political liberalism. Second, the clarity and economy with which Schaefer lays out his alternative to the Rawlsian approach make it possible to state some fundamental Rawlsian challenges to a form of theorizing that has considerable appeal to many critics of that approach. (shrink)
Kevin Vallier claims to have attained a ‘great goal’ of the social contract tradition: ‘to show that there are regimes supported by the reason of the public and that have authority for citizens in those regimes’. I contend that his argument depends upon changing the meanings of ‘reason of the public’ and ‘authority’, and conclude that he has not attained the goal he claims.
John Rawls’s argument for egalitarianism famously depends on his rejection of desert. In The Theology of Liberalism, Eric Nelson contends that Rawls’s treatment of desert depends on anti-Pelagian commitments he first endorsed in his undergraduate thesis and tacitly continued to hold. He also contends that a broad range of liberal arguments for economic egalitarianism fail because they rest on an incoherent conception of human agency. The failure becomes evident, Nelson says, when we see that proponents of those arguments unknowingly assume (...) the anti-Pelagianism on which Rawls relied. Nelson concludes that egalitarianism must be given a different political and theoretic basis than Rawls and his followers have provided. I argue that Nelson misreads Rawls and that egalitarians can avoid inconsistency without staking a theological claim they want to avoid. (shrink)
In this essay, the author tries to show the religious aspect of Rawls's work using a condition of religiosity that he himself endorsed. Section 1 looks at the passage in which Rawls asserts his condition of religiosity. In section 2, the author argues that Cohen's and Nagel's observation itself rests on a religiosity condition. In section 3, he shows how Rawls argued that Kant satisfied the religiosity condition and why Rawls thought Kant's moral philosophy has “a religious aspect.” Section 4 (...) explains that justice as fairness as presented in TJ has a religious aspect as well. In section 5, the author asks whether the religious aspect of justice as fairness survives Rawls's political turn. The chapter concludes by observing that the significance Kant gives to the moral law and our acting from it has an obvious religious aspect, and that his text occasionally has a devotional character. (shrink)
In its comprehensive overview of Alain Locke's pragmatist philosophy this book captures the radical implications of Locke's approach within pragmatism, the critical temper embedded in Locke's works, the central role of power and empowerment of the oppressed and the concept of broad democracy Locke employed.
Philip Quinn, John A. O’Brien Professor at the University of Notre Dame from 1985 until his death in 2004, was well known for his work in the philosophy of religion, political philosophy, and core areas of analytic philosophy. Although the breadth of his interests was so great that it would be virtually impossible to identify any subset of them as representative, the contributors to this volume provide an excellent introduction to, and advance the discussion of, some of the questions of (...) central importance to Quinn in the last years of his working life. Paul J. Weithman argues in his introduction that Quinn’s interest and analyses in many areas grew out of a distinctive and underlying sensibility that we might call “liberal faith.” It included belief in the value of a liberal education and in rigorous intellectual inquiry, the acceptance of enduring religious, cultural, and political pluralism, along with a keen awareness of problems posed by pluralism, and a deeply held but non-utopian faith in liberal democratic politics. These provocative essays, at the cutting edge of epistemology, the philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, and political philosophy, explore the tenets of liberal faith and invite continuing engagement with the philosophical issues. “Philip Quinn was admired enormously throughout the world of professional philosophy.... His reputation for rigor, his tireless service to the profession, and his essentially ‘non-dogmatic,’ but philosophically sophisticated faith is widely admired... The essays in this volume are first-rate contemporary philosophy along with an excellent introduction to Quinn’s work.” —_Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf College_ "The papers that form _Liberal Faith_ give insightful treatments of three types of questions: first, how can we conscientiously believe something when there are many people we admire who do not believe it, and what is the underlying relation here between justification and rationality; second, what does it mean to desire union with God, and can Christians properly believe in the possibility of eternal self-annihilation; third, how should liberal democracy accommodate the religious convictions of its members, whether some comprehensive doctrine such as a religion is required to justify a commitment to human equality, and whether there is an absolute moral prohibition on the state use of torture. The volume has an unusually good introduction putting the papers into dialog with each other and with the work of Philip Quinn. The papers are cohesive because the central themes of Philip Quinn's work hold together into a picture of how Christianity and Liberal Democracy fit together." —_John Hare, Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale Divinity School _ “This is a collection of high quality essays dealing with various topics related to Philip Quinn’s work. The book makes an original contribution by virtue of its individual papers, each of which is new. These essays will be of interest to scholars and students who followed Quinn’s work, especially in philosophy of religion and political philosophy.“ —_John Greco, The Leonard and Elizabeth Eslick Chair in Philosophy, Saint Louis University _. (shrink)
In 1971 John Rawls's A Theory of Justice transformed twentieth-century political philosophy, and it ranks among the most influential works in the history of the subject. This volume marks the 50th anniversary of the book's publication by offering a multi-faceted exploration of this important work.
ABSTRACT This essay challenges the view that John Rawls's recently published undergraduate thesis A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith provides little help in understanding his mature work. Two crucial strands of Rawls's Theory of Justice are its critique of teleology and its claims about our moral nature and its expression. These strands are brought together in a set of arguments late in Theory which are important but have attracted little sustained attention. I argue that the target (...) of Rawls's undergraduate thesis is a form of Christianity which rests on assumptions Rawls later came to think were fundamental to teleological views, and that the thesis defends an alternative form of religiosity that anticipates what Rawls says in Theory about the expression of our nature. Those sections of Theory also provide resources Rawls could have used to respond to a number of prominent and recurrent criticisms of his account of moral motivation. Seeing the continuities between Brief Inquiry and Theory of Justice shows how long Rawls wrestled with problems he took up in the neglected sections of Theory and thereby shows their importance to Rawls's thought. (shrink)