Can my religion influence my conception of justice? Political liberalism and the role of comprehensive doctrines

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 20 (4):402-424 (2017)
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In his last works, John Rawls explicitly argued for an overlapping consensus on a family of reasonable liberal political conceptions of justice, rather than just one. This ‘Deep Version’ of political liberalism opens up new questions about the relationship between citizens’ political conceptions, from which they must draw and offer public reasons in their political advocacy, and their comprehensive doctrines. These questions centre on whether a reasonable citizen’s choice of political conception can be influenced by her comprehensive doctrine. In this paper I present two models of the relationship, which give contrasting answers to these questions, and defend the model that is more permissive with regard to the influence of comprehensive doctrines. This has important implications for our understanding of Rawlsian political liberalism, and reduces the force of objections that have been offered by theorists sympathetic to religion.

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Paul Billingham
Oxford University


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