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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPolitical liberalism aims to describe how a free, liberal political order can be justified in societies marked by deep, intractable disagreement about matters of religion, philosophy, and morality. My dissertation explores the implications for political liberalism of justice pluralism: the view that reasonable citizens can disagree over which theory of justice, of a set of eligible or “reasonable” theories, is best. I argue that the values of political liberalism that lead to acknowledging a pluralism of reasonable comprehensive doctrines also lead to seeing political liberalism as a two-level theory. There is the meta-level of political liberalism per se, and the level of specific conceptions of justice. Political liberalism per se respects reasonable disagreement about the design of an original position argument, seeing no single design as the most reasonable. Specific conceptions of justice like Rawls’ justice as fairness, in contrast, take a stand on which specific design of an original position argument is the most reasonable. As a result, at each level, political liberalism has different constraints on the claims it can make about the nature of a just society. The difficult challenge is to articulate in just what sense a reasonable citizen can embrace the meta-theory of political liberalism, which sees many reasonable conceptions as on par, while nevertheless, reasonably advocating their favored conception as the best. This dissertation attempts to meet this challenge, showing that while political liberalism per se does not take sides in disputes between reasonable conceptions of justice, it is open to citizens to embrace one conception that guides their reasoning about a range of political matters.
Degree ProgramGraduate College