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The Origin and Future of Political Liberalism

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This essay reviews Paul Weithman’s new work – Why Political Liberalism? On John Rawls’s Political Turn. Weithman’s book has two aims, first to explain why Rawls recast his political theory and second, to defend a particular interpretation of political liberalism. In contrast to other reviews, this essay addresses the latter aim. I challenge Weithman’s defense of political liberalism on two grounds: (1) that it fails to adequately grapple with pluralism about justice and (2) that it does not provide an adequate model of stability for the right reasons. I conclude that these two weaknesses in an otherwise excellent book suggest a promising future for the political liberal tradition, one that is more comfortable with indeterminacy and less comfortable with deliberative restraint.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Bowling Green State University,


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