An Error Theory for Liberal Universalism

Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (3):305-325 (2012)
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This paper examines Bernard Williams’ challenge to liberal universalists (liberals “who assume their morality is universally applicable to everyone”) to provide a theory of error: “a story about the subject matter of political morality and about past people’s situation which explains why those people got it wrong about the subject matter.” It develops a theory of error that appeals to socio-historical conditions of the past to explain their role in making (1) liberal values and reasons epistemically inaccessible, and (2) motivations to live up to them unavailable.

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George Tsai
University of Hawaii


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