Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Paul Weithman on Rawls's Political Liberalism

Why Political Liberalism?
On John Rawls's Political Turn

by Paul Weithman

(Oxford University Press, 2011)

388 pages


In Why Political Liberalism?, Paul Weithman offers a fresh, rigorous, and compelling interpretation of John Rawls's reasons for taking his so-called "political turn".

Weithman painstakingly reconstructs Rawls's attempts to show that a just society would be stable, and just as carefully shows why Rawls came to think those arguments were inconsistent with other parts of his theory. Weithman then shows that the changes Rawls introduced into his view between "Theory of Justice" and "Political Liberalism" result from his attempt to remove the inconsistency and show that the hazard of the generalized prisoner's dilemma can be averted after all. Recovering Rawls's two treatments of stability helps to answer contested questions about the role of the original position and the foundations of justice as fairness. The result is a powerful and unified reading of Rawls's work that explains his political turn and shows his enduring engagement with some of the deepest concerns of human life.

Contents [preview]


1. The Public Basis View
2. Stability and Congruence
3. Ideals and Inconsistency
4, The Acquisition of Four Desires
5. Thin Reasons to Be Just
6. The Argument from Love to Justice
7. Kantian Congruence and the Unified Self
8. The Great Unraveling
9. The Political Ideals of Justice as Fairness
10. Comprehensive Reasons to Be Just
11. Conclusion: Why Political Liberalism?

Paul Weithman is Professor of Philosophy at University of Notre Dame. He is the author of "Religion and the Obligations of Citizenship" (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

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